Is it just me or have we gone overboard with the vaccinations? At this point I expect to see a vaccine for skinned knees by then end of 2010. The latest inoculation promises to protect against pneumococcal disease, including meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.

An updated version of a best-selling Pfizer vaccine was given preliminary approval by the Food and Drug Administration's panel of vaccine experts in November. It has been deemed safe and effective for infants and toddlers. This ‘anti-infection’ vaccine was expected receive final approval by Dec 30, but the FDA has delayed the action.

My Story: Lack of Passion on the Vaccine Issue

Personally, I gave up on the vaccination debate in 2000 when we moved to Texas, where the chicken pox vaccine was mandatory for acceptance in preschool. In Washington State at that time the immunization was still optional and I’d declined the offer to shoot my kids up with chicken pox. I didn’t really have any strong opinions one way or another. I just felt like — whatever, it’s the chicken pox. It’s not going to kill them.

In Texas my desire to get the kids out of my hair for two or three or six hours at a time overrode my mild defiance of vaccine protocol. I had to wonder, though, why did Texas care that they were immunized against a pretty harmless disease when Washington didn’t?

Could it be about the money?

Inoculating Against Big Money Rivals in the Vaccine Biz

Pfizer is not the only drug company in a research and approval race to get the next big syringe to market. This new and improved formulation could be a holy grail of sorts. The AP reported:

Vaccines are seen as a critical path to growth for drugmakers, as slowing prescription medicine sales and intensifying generic competition put pressure on company bottom lines.

Prevnar, Pfizer’s earlier version of the updated vaccine, is recommended for all children in the U.S. The new Prevnar 13 could potentially prevent 9,800 deaths and 160,000 hospitalizations due to pneumonia over 10 years. The approval process is crucial to success, and Pfizer has competition.

Pfizer is competing against rivals GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to cement its place in the global vaccine marketplace. GlaxoSmithKline markets the vaccine Synflorix, which is approved in Europe for use in children. Merck markets Pneumovax 23, which also defends against pneumococcal disease but is targeted for use in adults.

There are huge dollars at stake. Pfizer acquired the vaccine Prevnar as part of its $68 billion buyout of Wyeth that closed this fall.

Why do I suddenly have a vision of myself as a well-preserved seventy-something with a wicked wit and a passion for protecting my grandchildren from becoming human pin-cushions?