The Washington Post is reporting that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an influential government panel, has recommended that smokers get the pneumoccal vaccine. The pneumoccal vaccine, already recommended for people 65 years of age or older, is supposed to prevent pneumonia, meningitis and other illnesses. The vaccine is given as a one-time dose and is supposed to last for 5-10 years. Read more about this decision after the jump.
Pneumococcal infections are among the leading killers in vaccine-preventable diseases and are thought to be responsible for many of the annual flu-related deaths. Some studiessuggest that smokers are four times more likely to suffer from pneumococcal disease than non-smokers, and that the more cigarettes smoked each day the more susceptible one is to illness.
Some committee members felt that the vaccine should be recommended only to smokers above age 40, because younger smokers do not often become ill with pneumococcal disease.