The dramatic consequences – severe deaths or sequelae – of severe bacterial infections in children such as meningitis could be reduced by at least a quarter with vaccination.
Low immunization coverage for some diseases has disastrous consequences. Three people who could not be vaccinated against measles died in France in recent months, infected by patients who contracted the disease because they were not vaccinated in their childhood. Work carried out by a team from Inserm reveals such problematic consequences for children affected by severe bacterial infections (meningitis, purpura fulminans, septic shock …). These diseases can cause serious sequelae (paralysis, hearing loss, epilepsy, amputation) but also death of the child. The researchers followed a cohort of children (aged from one month to 16 years) between 2009 and 2014, in the western region. The results of their work are published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.
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There are two vaccines (anti pneumococcus and anti meningococcus C) that protect against "the main bacteria" responsible for these diseases reminds Inserm. The aim of the researchers was therefore to see among the children who contracted one of the bacterial infections, those which could have been avoided by one of the two vaccines. The conclusions of their work are clear: over 5 years, 25% of deaths and 25% of cases with serious sequelae could have been avoided, ie five deaths, and a little more than three children suffering sequelae on the 124 cases studied.
"There were 263 children admitted to the intensive care unit in the Grand Ouest hospitals during this period," explains Dr. Élise Launay, pediatrician at the University Hospital of Nantes. "Among them," says the researcher, 124 were hospitalized following a meningococcal infection or pneumococcus, a large majority was not up to date in their vaccines (61%). Infections that caused the death of 20 children and resulted in serious consequences for twelve others.
 At the beginning of the study (2009), the vaccines covered only 7 serotypes of the pneumococcus (this number increased to 13 in 2010) for a hundred identified. They also concerned only meningococcus C and not B. "But despite these restrictions, there would have been fewer deaths and children with serious after-effects if the vaccination schedule had been respected" insists the pediatrician, also a member of the research team in obstetrical, perinatal and pediatric epidemiology at Inserm.
 Today, vaccination against both bacteria has become mandatory throughout the country for all children born since 1 January 2018. For children who were born before "it is fundamental to apply the current catch-up recommendations" Inserm insists. .


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