In elderly with pneumococcal bacteraemia (blood infected with bacteria), the death rate is high, according to CDC surveillance. Another city-based pulmonologist Anil Kancherla says while children are being given the vaccine that is relatively expensive (Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000) the elderly are not being vaccinated as per requirement.

Most people think vaccinations are only for children, but even the elderly are highly vulnerable to some infections and should be protected by vaccinations. The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an organisation that is revered as highly as the World Health Organisation (WHO), has recommended that all senior citizens (persons aged 65 or older) should be vaccinated for pneumococcal diseases. In the elderly with pneumococcal bacteraemia (blood infected with bacteria), the mortality (death rate) was as high as 30 to 40 per cent, according to CDC surveillance.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is the microorganism (bacteria) that causes the infections. It was recognised as a major cause of pneumonia in the late 19 century. In healthy carriers it resides in the respiratory tract, but in the susceptible such as the elderly the bacterium spreads to other locations. It is the main cause of community acquired pneumonia and meningitis in children and the elderly.

Despite the name, the organism causes many types of pneumococcal infections other than pneumonia. The diseases caused by it include bronchitis, rhinitis, acute sinusitis, conjunctivitis, meningitis, bacteraemia, sepsis, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, endocarditis, peritonitis, pericarditis, cellulitis, otitis media and brain abscess.

Senior city-based pulmonologist S.Bhanu Prabhakar says that all high risk patients should be vaccinated for pneumococcal diseases. These are patients who have chronic illness such as chronic cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease (but not asthma), diabetes, alcoholism, chronic liver disease, or cerebrospinal fluid leaks.

Another city-based pulmonologist Anil Kancherla says while children are being given the vaccine that is relatively expensive (Rs 1,000 to Rs 4,000) the elderly are not being vaccinated as per requirement.

Though the price of the vaccination is high they are cost-saving because the costs of vaccinating the elderly persons are less than the costs of providing medical care to them.

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