Show Details

Secondhand Vaccinations

July 25, 2013

A vaccine for infants has surprisingly benefited unvaccinated seniors.



Secondhand vaccine benefits. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Jupiter Images

A vaccine that’s been given to babies for the past ten years appears to be protecting unvaccinated senior citizens. This according to Vanderbilt University medical professor Marie Griffin and her colleagues. The vaccine, called PCV7, is credited with a 43 percent drop in pneumonia hospitalizations for childen under two. But hospitalizations have also dropped among older, unvaccinated people.

MARIE GRIFFIN (Vanderbilt University Medical Center):

The biggest decline were in adults 85 years and older, where there was about a 23 percent decline in pneumonia hospitalizations.

The vaccine targets pneumococcal bacteria, which are generally transmitted from children to adults. Griffin says that shortly after the vaccine was introduced, the bacteria showed up far less often in children, and similar adult benefits followed closely behind. So vaccinating kids seems to have protected their grandparents as well. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.