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Kids' vaccine guards adults too, for now

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7:28pm, October 12, 2004

From Boston, at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Following the national introduction in 2000 of a vaccine for children against seven common strains of pneumococcus, serious infections caused by the bacteria decreased in children. The resulting dip in the microbe's overall prevalence in kids led to fewer infections in adults. A concern, however, is that rare strains of pneumococcus may arise to replace those cut down by the vaccine.

Infection with HIV, the AIDS virus, puts people at particular risk from pneumococcus, so researchers in several states collected 6 years' worth of data on severe pneumococcal infections among adults with HIV. The researchers also analyzed bacteria taken from those people to determine which pneumococcus strain was responsible.

Compared with the years before 2000, pneumococcal infections in late 2002 and early 2003 were 21 percent less frequent among adults with HIV, says Brendan Flannery of the Centers for

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