The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a panel that advises the federal government, is recommending that adult smokers under 65 should get a pneumococcal vaccine that was previously only recommended for anyone 65 or older. Federal officials usually take the advice of this panel, according to the article, and this is the first time an influential body of scientists has recommended a vaccine specifically for smokers. From the article:
Studies have shown that smokers 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, some scientists doubt the usefulness of this vaccine for smokers under age 40.
The vaccine protects against a variety of pneumococcal bacteria that can cause pneumonia and other serious lung infections.