Update on pneumococcal vaccines


The Department of Health Immunisation Team has been made aware of a supply shortage of Pneumovax® II 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Sanofi Pasteur MSD), which is likely to last until February, 2012. This is the vaccine recommended as a one-off dose for adults aged 65 or older and is purchased directly from the manufacturer.

Clinicians should use their judgement in managing any shortfall they may experience. This may include deferring patients’ PPV immunisation until supplies are restored, or deciding if particular patients need immunisation with PPV as a priority.


The Department of Health Immunisation Team has also been made aware of practices receiving advertising on the use of Prevenar® 13 (the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine marketed by Pfizer) in older adults. Prevenar 13 provided through ImmForm is only for use in the national childhood immunisation programme for children up to the age of five years. This stock must not be used for older adults.

In September 2011, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) extended the licence for Prevenar 13 to adults aged 50+, after reviewing evidence of antibody responses in this age group. The EMA advised ’the use of Prevenar 13 should be determined on the basis of official recommendations’.

While stocks of Prevenar 13 can be obtained from Pfizer for use in older adults, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations (JCVI) does not currently recommend Prevenar 13 for this age group. JCVI is awaiting the results of a major research study that is looking at how effective the Prevenar 13 vaccine is in preventing pneumococcal disease in older people (the CAPITA study). JCVI will consider the research findings as soon as they become available.

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