Every time one problem gets solved, it seems another crops up. This is the case with the childhood pneumonia vaccine.
Since the vaccine was introduced almost a decade ago to stamp out bacterial pneumonia, there has been a big drop in that serious lung disease. But there has also been a dramatic increase in a serious and sometimes life-threatening complication, according to a new national study by researchers at UC Davis.
It seems this is the result of the vaccine eliminating certain types of pneumococcus, creating an opportunity for other bacteria to take its place.
The study is published in the January issues of the journal Pediatrics. It looked at the incidence of empyema, a complication of pneumonia that is a severe infection in a cavity between the lung and the chest wall.
There's been a 50 percent drop in hospitalizations from pneumonia due to pneumococcus since the vaccine was introduced in 2000, and an overall decrease in all bacterial pneumonias. But the empyema rate jumped 70 percent, according to the study.
The Food and Drug Administration licensed PCV7, a vaccine for infants and children, in 2000. It protected them from seven serotypes, or strains of microorganisms, most commonly responsible for serious infections from Streptococcus pneumoniae.