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Prevnar 13: Is the vaccine safe?

It seems that every time I turn around, I see the advertisement for the Prevnar 13 vaccine for Pneumococcal Pneumonia, with the admonition to “get this one done”.

In keeping with the parental advice of “don’t believe everything you see, and only half of what you hear”, my first questions are…How serious is Pneumococcal Pneumonia and how likely am I to get it?

Pneumococcal Pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia and it is potentially serious, characterized by inflammation/infection of the lungs. Streptococcus pnemoniae is the culprit, same for meningitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord). It usually occurs after an upper respiratory tract infection, such as the flu. It’s more likely to occur if one has a preexisting health issue. The CDC states that there are about 500,000 cases a year and about 5% (about 2500) of those will die from it.

Of course, the older you get, the higher the risk. People with chronic ailments, like heart or lung disease, kidney failure, diabetes, certain types of cancer, are more likely to be in that 5%, so it’s hard to say what the actual cause of death really is.

SO, How safe is the vaccine? Well, according to the manufacturer, the following adverse reactions were reported during clinical trials:

- Guillian-Barré Syndrome

- Radiculoneuropathy

- Paresthesia

- Arthritis

- Arthralgia

- Myalgia

- Lymphadenopathy

- Thrombocytopenia

- Anaphylactic shock

- Cellulitis

- Headache

- Rash

- Vomiting

- Chills

- Fever and fatigue

- Pain at the injection site, etc.

These things occurred in 53% of the cases and if they had a flu shot at the same time, it increased to 79% of the cases.

How effective is the vaccine? Several studies have shown that the pneumococcal vaccine simply does not work. Evidently, one’s own immune system washes out the vaccine rapidly. Some authorities have also noted that those at the highest risk of infection actually benefit the least from the vaccine and that it is more likely to cause complications.

The Cochrane Collaboration – an objective, independent well-respected source of scientific evidence – published the results of their thorough assessment.

“The combined results from the randomized studies fail to show that the vaccine is effective in preventing either pneumonia or death. In fact, it does not matter whether vaccine recipients are middle-aged or elderly, with or without chronic illness; the pneumonia vaccine does not reduce the incidence of the disease or death.”

Further, it’s important to note that the vaccine only includes 23 of the approximately 90 strains of the disease. Nor will it protect against other bacterial infections which could result in meningitis, blood infections or bacterial pneumonia.

Please refer to the references below for further information on the subject. Or contact our office at 321-482-0345 to attend one of our free health classes on various topics including how to alternatively handle heart disease and thyroid issues.

1.Physician’s Desk Reference; 53rd Edition. Medical Economics, 1999; 1524 and 1861

2. Meningococcal disease. CDC www.

3. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “Prenar 13”. Product insert from the vaccine manufacturer. Revised Feb. 2010

4.Black, S., Shinefield, H., et al. “Efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of heptavalent pneumococcal infections, including the use of pneumococcal conjugate and polysaccharide vaccines and antibiotic prophylaxix. American Academy of Pediatrics and the Committee on Infectious Diseases.

5. Press release. “FDA told pneumococcal vaccine likely to cause epidemic of diabetes”. (Nov. 8, 1999).

6. Mercola, J. “Prevnar”.


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