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PRAGUE – In the Czech Republic, 400 cases of pneumonia are reported every year and 14% of the infected children under the age of fi ve die. Vaccination against pneumococcal disease would provide necessary protection to children. Pneumococcus causes pneumonia, encephalitis or barotitis. 16 countries of the EU have already introduced routine vaccination, which is now being considered in the Czech Republic.

“The vaccination against pneumococcal diseases would save millions of children’s lives all over the world,” the representatives from the Pneumococcal Awareness Council of Experts announced at a seminar yesterday.

“In the Czech Republic, we are falling behind,” Pavla Krížová of the State Health Institution pointed out, and added that this kind of vaccination is also recommended by the World Health Organization.

Pneumococcal diseases are often hard to identify and therefore they can easily be underestimated by both parents and doctors. That is what happened at the beginning of August in the Benesov area, where a three year-old boy died in his sleep after having been dismissed from the hospital. Even in cases where children survive pneumococcal infection, it can still result in permanent effects, such as deafness. The experts recommend that parents should have their children vaccinated, especially infants and toddlers. Doing so can be expensive, especially for families with more children. One dose costs approximately CZK 1850 and four are needed. Some health insurance companies offer assistance for the vaccination.