Vice President Joe Biden started his annual health care kickoff event by urging as many people as possible to be vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.
“Pneumonia has the greatest mortality rate of any single disease that can kill you,” Biden said, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “Don’t take it for granted.”
Biden was speaking Thursday morning at a Pfizer-sponsored event in Washington where he introduced the company’s new vaccine, Prevnar 13. Pfizer said it is the world’s first, non-adjuvanted pneumococcal vaccine against pneumococcal disease. To prevent an infection, it must be given once a year, like other vaccines.
“Pneumonia kills 10,000 Americans every year, including 78,000 children and 3,000 pregnant women,” Biden said. “And with Prevnar 13 we’re ensuring those numbers will be cut by half.”
The vice president made note of the six medical organizations that have been co-sponsoring the event, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Chest Physicians.
The vaccinations, they included, help public health agencies reduce risk of the disease, he said. “It’s not easy, but it’s not difficult to save lives and protect the ones you love,” Biden said.
“Should anyone forget this step?” he asked. “These are the facts: Men, women, adults, children.”
A once-a-year shot at a whopping price of nearly $600 for individuals aged 65 and older would account for only the most expensive option, Biden said.
According to research cited by Pfizer, according to more than 1,000 people in that age group, for every 1,000 of those taking a triple combination antibiotic for three months, an individual could reduce their risk of a pneumococcal disease infection by as much as 76 percent. That is compared to a placebo of zero percent. But aspirin does not work for children, who can usually wait until kindergarten or preschool.
Biden and Pfizer emphasized that the shot is an option for anyone for whom the drug is safe and it should be reviewed by a physician.
The switch to Prevnar 13 follows a reported finding by the company that the vaccine is a moderately effective all-cause, one-year vaccine — not just one to prevent pneumonia and whooping cough.