U.S. - Panel Calls for Adult Smokers to Get Pneumococcal Vaccine..

October 23, 2008 - The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is recommending smokers aged 19 through 64 years of age should be vaccinated with pneumococcal vaccine. The committee also recommended smokers who receive pneumococcal vaccine also undergo stop smoking counseling," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesman Curtis Allen said by e-mail.

If accepted by the CDC, it would be the first vaccine recommendation aimed specifically at smokers. Smokers account for half of otherwise healthy adults with serious pneumococcal infections.

Studies have shown that smokers (more than a fifth of U.S. adults), are about four times more likely than nonsmokers to suffer pneumococcal disease. Also, the more cigarettes someone smokes each day, the higher the odds they'll develop the illnesses. Why smokers are more susceptible is not known for sure, but some scientists believe it has to do with smoking-caused damage that allows the bacteria to more easily attach to the lungs and windpipe, said Dr. Pekka Nuorti, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC.

Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke may further increase the risk of pneumococcal disease. (Smoking and Pneumococcal Infection, New England Journal of Medicine,
342(10):732-734, March 9, 2000

Reference: Smokers should get pneumonia vaccine: U.S. advisers, Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Will Dunham and Jackie Frank, Reuters, 10/22/2008 and Panel Calls for Adult Smokers to Get Pneumococcal Vaccine, Associated Press, 10/22/2008.