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JCVI revise advice on the pneumococcal vaccination programme

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued revised advice (PDF) regarding the routine pneumococcal vaccination programme for adults aged 65 years and older using pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV).

In March this year, advice was issued that the programme should be discontinued because there have been no discernible reduction in the rate of invasive pneumococcal disease since the introduction of the vaccine. The DH sought the views of professional and patient groups and the vaccine manufacturers before making a final decision. Following a review of all the submissions and a new analysis the JCVI have concluded that, "whilst uncertainty remains about the effectiveness of PPV, there is better evidence from the UK experience of the vaccine suggesting that PPV provides some moderate short-term protection to those aged 65 years and older, although protection may be less and wane faster in older age groups and for some clinical risk groups".

The JCVI have therefore recommended continuing the current programme with routine use recommended in individuals aged 65 years and older. It is also suggested that the efficacy of the programme is reviewed again in 2 years time.

This revised advice is the subject of a Department of Health (DH) letter (PDF) that states that the new analysis indicates that the programme remains cost effective despite the limited effectiveness of the vaccine.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this review and final decision. Clinicians should continue to implement the advice in the Green Book.