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CMAJ. 1987 Feb 15;136(4):361-5.

Efficacy of pneumococcal vaccine in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Although pneumococcal vaccine has been recommended for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), its efficacy in this population has not been shown. A double-blind randomized controlled trial of 14-valent pneumococcal vaccine was carried out in 189 men and women aged 40 to 89 years with a clinical diagnosis of COPD and a forced expiratory volume in 1 second of less than 1.5 L. Of the 189, 92 received the vaccine and 97 received saline placebo. In a randomly chosen subsample of those who received the vaccine the mean titres of specific IgG antibody to selected pneumococcal polysaccharide serotypes increased two- to threefold by 4 weeks after vaccination. Over a 2-year period the rates of death, hospital admissions and emergency visits and the mean length of hospital stay were not significantly different in the two groups. Although a protective effect of 14-valent pneumococcal vaccine could not be shown, the small size of the sample and the relatively low follow-up rates preclude firm conclusions about efficacy from these data alone. The elevated antibody levels before vaccination in some of the patients, suggesting prior infection with Diplococcus pneumoniae, may partly explain the findings.

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