Pfizer Launches Pneumococcal Vaccine for Adults

Don't let the sun out fool you, today's hot weather is different from the pleasant, sunny day we used to know. Some may call it sunny day for the kiddies but as my grandma would say, it's a sneak-up-on-ya-pneumonia weather for the oldies. This is why we have to be more careful because we could catch pneumonia or an annoying cold from this kind of weather. Besides, you'll never know when you'll catch Pneumonia.

That said, a cold isn't serious enough to stop someone from doing something. Pneumonia is.

As they say, health is wealth. As for me, health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.

I attended the Pfizer press conference held at the Crown Plaza Hotel last week wherein Pfizer Inc. has officially launched in the Philippines its pneumococcal vaccine for adults. The new pneumococcal vaccine is now available in the Philippines for the prevention of pneumococcal disease caused by S.pneumoniae for adults aged 50 years and older.

 I've learned that pneumonia, the most common type of pneumococcal disease, is still the leading cause of morbidity and the 5th leading cause of mortality in the country.


“This is particularly important for adults 50 and above whose immune systems have weakened leaving the body susceptible to more diseases,” says Dr. Joe Schmitt, Senior Director for Scientific Affairs (Vaccines) of Pfizer, and a speaker at the press conference.

Currently a single dose of this vaccine, designed to prevent serious infection like pneumonia caused by the pneumococcus bacteria, is recommended routinely for all adults 50 years and older, and for younger persons at risk of this infection because of underlying conditions like chronic heart or lung disease.


Dr. Julio Alberto Ramirez, currently a physician in several hospitals in the Kentucky area, specializing in infectious disease. He also stressed out that elderly and infants/young children are at greatest risk of pneumococcal disease.


The most common form of pneumococcal disease in adults is pneumococcal pneumonia.Pneumococcal pneumonia commonly presents as community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) caused by the bacterium S. pneumoniae. In many regions of the world, S. pneumoniae is the most commonly identified cause of CAP – resulting in approximately 30 percent of cases worldwide.

Dr. Rontgene M. Solante, president of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID)saidthat Filipinos aged 50 and above accounted for 88% of deaths due to pneumonia. “Often, pneumococcal disease attacks individuals with compromised immune systems and these are usually adults who are already suffering from other conditions,” he added.

Dr. Solante added that individuals who suffer from Pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases experience a decreased quality of life as it could also lead to paralysis, mental retardation, seizures, learning disabilities and hearing loss.He noted it is often the individual’s disregard for symptoms of the pneumonia, most often due to lack of knowledge of the disease, which leads to death.

“We highly encourage individuals, especially those who are 50 years old and above, to visit their doctors and learn and understand more about pneumococcal disease. Understanding is the first step to fighting the disease,” shared Dr. Solante. “Once individuals understand the disease, they will also learn that pneumonia is actually a vaccine-preventable disease.”

“This is particularly important for adults 50 and above whose immune systems have weakened leaving the body susceptible to more diseases,” says Dr. Joe Schmitt, Senior Director for Scientific Affairs (Vaccines) of Pfizer, and a speaker at the press conference.


The pneumococcal vaccine of Pfizer has been available in the country since 2010 for use in children ages 2 to 5 years old andis now approved for adults 50 years old and above in the Philippines since November 2011. The adult indication was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) last October 2011 and the US. Food and Drug Administration last December 2011.

“In the pharmaceutical industry, constant scientific breakthroughs are vital in discovering more efficient and effective medicine to save lives. That’s why in Pfizer, we are fully committed to the continuous search of modern-day miracles – to develop and provide for such cures or vaccines,” shares Patricia Pascual, Pfizer Public Affairs Director. “This is of great priority – we are dedicated to staying true to the enduring values of the global brand.”

Dr. Solante noted that here in the Philippines, it is important to make vaccination a family concern, especially since pneumonia can be acquired by anyone in the family. “Filipinos are very close to their families so we encourage everyone to make vaccination, especially against pneumonia, a family initiative. Encourage your family members to visit their doctors.”

In order to protect oneself against pneumococcal disease, adults who are older than 50 years old should discuss PD vaccination and how best to be protected with their doctors.

It's just sad to know that so many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health. Many focus on financial wealth but we have to remember that without physical health, we have nothing. Health is our greatest wealth and spending money for vaccines can never be ill spent.

To learn more about Pfizer, please visit us at www.pfizer.com.