Invasive pneumococcal disease in Indigenous people in north Queensland, 1999–2004

Jeffrey N Hanna, Jan L Humphreys and Denise M Murphy
Med J Aust 2006; 184 (3): 118-121.


Objective: To describe the epidemiology of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), and the impact of pneumococcal vaccines on IPD, in Indigenous people in north Queensland.

Setting: North Queensland, 1999–2004; there are about 53 750 Indigenous people in the region, including nearly 6900 children < 5 years and nearly 5650 adults ≥ 50 years.

Main outcome measures: Incidences of IPD in Indigenous children and in Indigenous adults compared between the 3 years before and after the introduction of a 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (7vPCV) (1999–2001 versus 2002–2004).

Results: Estimated annual incidence of IPD in Indigenous children < 5 years of age declined from 170 to 78 cases per 100 000 in the 3 years following the introduction of 7vPCV in 2001. The annual incidence of vaccine-preventable IPD in Indigenous adults had declined by 86% since a 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) was introduced to the region in 1996, to 15 cases per 100 000 (95% CI, 8–25) in 2002–2004.

Conclusion: Although there was a rapid decline in IPD in young Indigenous children, it is unlikely that the incidence will fall much further with the current 7-valent vaccine. There was a suggestion that vaccinating Indigenous children indirectly protected those aged 5–14 years and Indigenous adults ≥15 years of age. Incidence of IPD in Indigenous adults in 2002–2004 was the lowest on record in the region.

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  • Jeffrey N Hanna1
  • Jan L Humphreys2
  • Denise M Murphy3

  • 1 Tropical Public Health Unit Network, Queensland Health, Cairns, QLD.
  • 2 Tropical Public Health Unit Network, Queensland Health, Aitkenvale, QLD.
  • 3 Pneumococcal Reference Laboratory, Queensland Health Scientific Services, Coopers Plains, QLD.



We thank all laboratory and clinical staff involved in the diagnosis and management of the patients with invasive pneumococcal disease included in this report, and those in the Tropical Public Health Unit Network who undertook follow-up and collected information.

Competing interests:

Jeffrey Hanna has received honoraria and travel grants from vaccine manufacturers, including Merck Sharp and Dohme and Wyeth.

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