Invasive Pneumococcal Disease (IPD) is a severe bacterial infection triggered by the bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. Unlike more common pneumococcal infections that result in conditions like the common cold, middle ear and sinus infections, or lung inflammation, IPD can be life-threatening.

The bacteria penetrate the respiratory tract's lining, entering the bloodstream and resulting in bacteremia. Moreover, the infection can spread to other areas, including the cortex, causing meningitis, or to other organs such as bones and joints, leading to inflammation there. This disease has been recognised in the medical community for an extended period and is particularly prevalent among infants and young children between the ages of 2 months and 9 years. The consequences can be severe, including disability or even death.

Which Children Are Most at Risk of Developing IPD?

Children are generally more susceptible to IPD, particularly those younger than 2 years old. The following groups are at elevated risk:

  • Children with a malfunctioning or absent spleen
  • Children with thalassaemia
  • Children with HIV
  • Those with immune deficiency conditions
  • Children suffering from chronic illnesses like heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, and diabetes

Additionally, children with spinal cord anomalies causing fluid leakage, children who have experienced ear infections or have had inner ear implant surgeries, those in nurseries, those living with smoking parents, and those who are not breastfed also show an increased risk for IPD.

Available Vaccines for IPD

There are currently two vaccine types available for IPD:

  1. Polysaccharide Vaccine: This vaccine is not effective in stimulating immunity in children under 2 years old. It is primarily aimed at children over 2 who are at risk and elderly individuals.
  2. Conjugate Vaccine: Effective for children younger than 2 years of age, this vaccine boasts a remarkable 97.3% success rate in preventing IPD triggered by its native serotypes. It can be administered to children as young as 6 weeks up to 9 years old.