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Impact of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in people aged 65 years or older

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Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is a major cause of morbidity in very young children and older adults.1 The 23-valent polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine (23vPPV) has been available in Australia since 1986, and use of it has increased progressively since then. It was recommended and subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for Australians aged ≥ 65 years in 1997, provided free of charge for this group in Victoria from 1998, and included in the nationally funded National Immunisation Program from 2005.2 The vaccine’s effectiveness against IPD in immunocompetent older people has been estimated as about 70%,3 but it is generally regarded as not effective in preventing carriage of pneumococcal serotypes against which it is targeted.1,3

Australia is the only country to have introduced nationally funded programs for the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (7vPCV) for infants and the 23vPPV for older people in the same year (2005).4 Unlike the 23vPPV, the 7vPCV has been shown to prevent carriage of vaccine serotypes,