CDC expands recommendations for Merck's PPV vax

Adults smokers ages 19 to 64, or those in that age group with asthma, should receive the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV), according to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The ACIP voted unanimously to issue the recommendations after examining study data, which demonstrated that the risk for pneumococcal diseases among smokers, such as pneumonia and meningitis, is about four times the rate for non-smokers. Data also revealed an increased risk of pneumococcal diseases among people with asthma.

In addition to the vaccine, the panel also recommended that smokers receive smoking-cessation counseling. It's likely that the CDC will adopt the panel's recommendations, which means an estimated 35 million smokers will be directed to get the jab and counseling.

PPV, marketed in the U.S. by Merck as Pnuemovax 23, is the only pneumococcal vaccine approved in the U.S for adults. Novartis has a a pneumococcal vax expected to begin trials in 2010.

- check out the Merck release
- read the AP article for more