"In the US, the benefits of childhood pneumococcal vaccination have exceeded everyone’s expectations. The next challenge is to speed this life-saving vaccine to children everywhere."

Anne Schuchat


National Immunization Program, CDC

Routine pneumococcal immunization programs America have demonstrated phenomenal vaccine health impact

Routine pneumococcal immunization programs in America have demonstrated phenomenal vaccine health impact

North America

North America: Routine Vaccination in USA and Canada

Routine pneumococcal immunization programs with the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in North America have demonstrated phenomenal vaccine health impact in protecting both the vaccinated children and the unvaccinated children and adults from pneumococcal disease and in reducing health disparities and improving child survival and health among vulnerable children.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported surveillance data on invasive pneumococcal disease in the USA before and after the introduction of the 7-valent vaccine, describing the public health impact as “phenomenal” (CDC. MMWR 2005; 54: 893-897).

  • The incidence of vaccine-type invasive pneumococcal disease declined by 94% among children under 5; even though, the coverage rate during the surveillance period was only 68%.
  • In addition to protecting the vaccinated children, more than twice as many cases of pneumococcal disease were prevented in unvaccinated children and adults – a public health phenomenon known as indirect effect or herd immunity.
  • Increases in non-vaccine type disease (i.e., serotype replacement) have been seen but the increases have been small in relation to the overall decline in disease.

Routine vaccination has also eliminated racial disparities in pneumococcal disease incidence. For years, African-American and Native Alaskan/American Indian children had rates of invasive pneumococcal disease several fold higher than that of white children in the USA. Vaccination has wiped out these health disparities and the incidence of disease is now the similar low rates in all groups (Flannery B et al. JAMA 2004; 291:2253-5. Hennessy TW et al. Vaccine 2005; 23:5464-73).


Following introduction of universal immunization of infants with 7-valent pneumococcal vaccine in 2002, a prompt and large decline in the incidence of invasive pneumococcal infection among children under 2 years of age occurred in the Calgary region. As in the US, herd immunity was seen, with an associated fall in the incidence of PCV7 serotype invasive disease among adults aged over 65 years. (Kellner et al. CMAJ 2005; 173: 1150-1151.)