Senior Vaccinations

The two available pneumonia vaccines recommended for older adults are equally good at safeguarding the health of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But one drug appears to offer longer-term protection, a new study from Russia has found.

A trial comparing PCV13 (Prevnar13) and PPSV23 (Pneumovax23) in patients with COPD showed that both drugs helped to reduce disease exacerbations and shortness of breath, improve exercise tolerance, and reduce the rate of pneumonia episodes, according to Galina L. Ignatova, Ph.D., of South Ural State Medical University, and colleagues.

But these benefits gradually declined in COPD patients who received the Pneumovax23 shot, beginning two years after vaccination. Pneumovax23 vaccination also was associated with a higher risk of severe pneumonia starting at three years when compared with no vaccination, the authors found. At a five-year follow-up, the positive effects for COPD patients were evident only with Prevnar13, they reported.

The study also confirmed previous findings that adults aged 65 years and older have a greater risk of vaccine failure with Pneumovax23 than younger adults. In contrast, patient age was not a significant factor in the effectiveness in Prevnar13.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults aged 65 years and older routinely receive Pneumovax23, escpecially those with respiratory disease such as COPD and asthma. For additional protection, and in consultation with their doctor, some adults may also wish receive Prevnar13, the agency states on its website. “Clinicians should consider discussing Prevnar13 vaccination with these patients to decide if vaccination might be appropriate,” CDC concludes.

Full findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.