Per Wikipedia:  “Pneumonia is usually caused by infection with viruses or bacteria and less commonly by other microorganisms, certain medications and conditions such as autoimmune diseases. Risk factors include other lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis, COPD, and asthma, diabetes, heart failure, a history of smoking, a poor ability to cough such as following a stroke, or a weak immune system. Diagnosis is often based on the symptoms and physical examination. Chest X-ray, blood tests, and culture of the sputum may help confirm the diagnosis. The disease may be classified by where it was acquired with community, hospital, or health care associated pneumonia.

“Bacteria are the most-common cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), with Streptococcus pneumoniae isolated in nearly 50% of cases. Other commonly-isolated bacteria include Haemophilus influenzae in 20%, Chlamydophila pneumoniae in 13%, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae in 3% of cases; Staphylococcus aureus; Moraxella catarrhalis; Legionella pneumophila; and Gram-negative bacilli. A number of drug-resistant versions of the above infections are becoming more common, including drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae (DRSP) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“The spreading of organisms is facilitated when risk factors are present. Alcoholism is associated with Streptococcus pneumoniae, anaerobic organisms, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis; smoking facilitates the effects of Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Legionella pneumophila. Exposure to birds is associated with Chlamydia psittaci; farm animals with Coxiella burnetti; aspiration of stomach contents with anaerobic organisms; and cystic fibrosis with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Streptococcus pneumoniae is more common in the winter, and it should be suspected in persons aspirating a large amount of anaerobic organisms.”

According to the CDC, pneumonia kills an average of ~13 in 100,000 individuals each year in the US.  If the statistics above are accurate and the numbers are reduced by 1/3 to account for cases of viral pneumonia, that would equate to approximately 3 of the remaining 9.5 (30%) in which the vaccine may be effective (pneumococcal pneumonia).  As the pneumococcal vaccine is only effective against certain strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae, even this number may be inflated, but we will assume 100% effectiveness for purposes of relative risk calculation in this article (1 in 333,000 for the general population).

Vaccine Statistics

 When debating informed consent, it is important that people calculate the risk versus the reward for all options.  Here are some facts, according to VAERS and the CDC.

  • Since 2000, there have been fewer than 55,000 deaths reported annually due to pneumonia.  Viral pneumonia accounts for approximately one third of pneumonia cases (36,700 cases remaining).  Of these cases, only 30% can be attributed to pnuemococcal infection according to the statistics (11,000 cases remaining).
  • Of the above cases the CDC estimates that approximately 200 deaths occurred in children under the age of 2 due to pneumococcal infection.
  • Since 2000, there have been at least 1710 deaths reported to VAERS associated with the pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Since 2000, there have been 99,526 adverse events reported to VAERS, with the vast majority clustering between 0-24 months of age, and >65 years.

Deaths from pneumococcal pneumonia are found most commonly in the elderly (>65) followed infants under the age of 2. The CDC estimates that ~82% of children under the age of 36 months are immunized against Streptococcus pnuemoniae.  Since 2000, there have been an average of 3.8 million live births annually and it takes four doses of the vaccine to “fully immunize” a child.  This leaves risk of death for the infant population at 1 in 19,000. In contrast, according to VAERS statistics, vaccination has a risk of death of 1 in 131,000 per dose, or 1 in 32,800 for the entire series.  If the FDA’s assessment of reporting compliance is correct (<1%), those risks may be as high as 1 in 1310 per dose, or 1 in 328 for the entire series.  Even if it assumed that the FDA and HHS studies demonstrating under-reporting erred by an order of magnitude, the risk of the vaccine is far greater than a child’s risk from pneumococcal pneumonia.  Other statistics reported to VAERS since 2000:

  • 2326 immediately life threatening complications
  • 1615 permanent disabilities
  • 15,699 hospitalizations or extensions of hospitalization
  • 31,748 emergency room or office visits related to complications

Vaccine Safety

Vaccine Typepeptide antigen/potential alternate victim

Pregnancy ClassC

This section will reference the product insert for Prevnar 13 as supplied by the FDA.  It should be noted that pneumococcal vaccines contain high levels of aluminum adjuvants.

Contraindications (do not administer):

  • Allergic or sensitivity reaction to any component of the vaccine such as yeast, or any diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine.
  • Immunosuppressed (such as through steroids) or immunocompromised

Adverse Events (as reported by the manufacturer):

  • Apnea, injection site pain/swelling/erythema/induration, fever, anorexia, irritability, somnolence, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, encephalitis, anaphylaxis, seizures (including febrile seizures), urticaria

One finding was significant enough to quote:  “Serious adverse events were collected throughout the study period for all 13 clinical trials. This reporting period is longer than the 30-day post-vaccination period used in some vaccine trials. The longer reporting period may have resulted in serious adverse events being reported in a higher percentage of subjects than for other vaccines. Serious adverse events reported following vaccination in infants and toddlers occurred in 8.2% among Prevnar 13 recipients and 7.2% among Prevnar recipients. Serious adverse events observed during different study periods for Prevnar 13 and Prevnar respectively were: 1) 3.7% and 3.5% from dose 1 to the blood draw approximately 1 month after the infant series; 2) 3.6% and 2.7% from the blood draw after the infant series to the toddler dose; 3) 0.9% and 0.8% from the toddler dose to the blood draw approximately 1 month after the toddler dose and 4) 2.5% and 2.8% during the 6 month follow-up period after the last dose.

“The most commonly reported serious adverse events were in the ‘Infections and infestations’ system organ class including bronchiolitis (0.9%, 1.1%), gastroenteritis, (0.9%, 0.9%), and pneumonia (0.9%, 0.5%) for Prevnar 13 and Prevnar respectively.”

Serious adverse events reported following vaccination in infants and toddlers occurred in 8.2% of Prevnar 13 recipients and 7.2% of Prevnar recipients.

Scientific Articles

Editor’s Opinion

The risks posed by this vaccine appear to outweigh the risks of the disease whether you take a mathematical approach given morbidity and mortality statistics from the CDC, or the rate of serious complications reported by the manufacturer.  It is shocking that any vaccine with a known serious adverse event rate over 8% could ever be approved, but this is the current state medicine.  We do not recommend that any child be administered this vaccine.  In the case of individuals >65 years of age, there is insufficient data to demonstrate that vaccination against Streptococcus pneumoniae does not cause other bacteria to become more common causes of pneumonia, though emerging research is beginning to hint that this is the case.  Since the rate of mortality from pneumonia is dramatically higher in the >65 population, however, we would require that those studies are completed and peer-reviewed before we would consider withdrawing a cautious recommendation that elderly individuals are administered this vaccine.