The Health Council of the Netherlands is preparing an advice on pneumococcal vaccination for the elderly on request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. For the purpose of this advisory report, RIVM has published a report with monitoring data and the results of various scientific studies on pneumococci. This report includes the number of people in the Netherlands who become ill through pneumococci and the effectiveness and safety of various pneumococcal vaccines in children and the elderly.
Pneumococci are the key pathogens causing severe infections such as pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. There are dozens of different types of pneumococci. In the Netherlands, about 10,000 patients are diagnosed every year with a severe pneumococcal infection. Particularly the elderly are at a higher risk of dying from pneumonia.
Infants have been receiving three vaccinations against pneumococcal disease since 2006. These vaccinations, provided within the National Immunisation Programme, have greatly reduced pneumococcal disease amongst children. The vaccination protects against 10 types of pneumococci.
Through the vaccination programme for infants, the spread of the bacteria has also decreased. The elderly also benefit from this. Nevertheless, the number of cases among the elderly is still high because infections occur through types of pneumococci that are not vaccinated against. The elderly are currently not offered a pneumococcal vaccination through a vaccination programme, but they can obtain this vaccination through their GP at their own expense.