Thank you for the questions. Let me go over some basic principles with you. There is a difference between bacteria, lung cells and viruses. Lung cells are the most complex organisms of the three. They are called eukaryotes. Eukaryotes are the largest of the three. They contain all the necessary functions in order to keep the cell operating. Eukaryotes contain a nucleus (which contains DNA) and organelles, which is divided by cytoplasm. All of theses are inside a closed membrane. These eukaryotes make up most of the organs in our body, including the lungs. A bacterium is a prokaryote is a molecule that is smaller than a eukaryote. It holds its DNA in a nucleoid region, instead of in a centralized organelle like a eukaryote's nucleus. They lack organelles and usually have a sort of flagellum attached to it for motion (Bio Lecture 9/28 Menvielle). The bacteria that are harmful to use are called pathogens. They produce endotoxins and exotoxins that are harmful to us, which is why we get sick. These can usually be destroyed by a form of antibiotics (Campbell et al. 2007.)
In contrary to eukaryotic and bacteria cells, which are living, Viruses are not living organisms. Even though they contain features that living organisms have, such as DNA, reproduction and evolution, they are not made up of cells like prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The DNA that is in viruses is contained inside a protein coat, which it sheds when it finds a host to inject its DNA (or RNA) into. Viruses use other molecules to produce replications of itself. Bacteria and human organ cells are alive but viruses are not alive, even though they contain some of the necessary function to be qualified as a living organism (Michael L. Cain et al. 2007.)
The flu lowers your immune system, which allows bacteria, such as Pneumococcus to set in. In regards to Pneumovax, the vaccine is designed to eliminate or inhibit the presence of the bacteria that causes pneumonia. Pneumonia is the primary causes of death when someone is infected with the flu. Pneumonia is breathed in through the air, where it then goes into your lungs and multiply in the air sacs. The body responds by filling the air sacs with fluid and pus to stop the infection and multiplication (MedicineNeta.) If Pneumonia goes untreated, a person can die by in a way, drowning to death from no oxygen being able to get into the lungs.
The vaccine itself will not prevent anyone from getting the flu, in particular swine flu, or H1N1. What Pneumovax will do though is prevent one of the major causes or death from H1N1, which is pneumonia. Theoretically, if someone were vaccinated against pneumonia when someone was infected with the swine flu, then a number of deaths would be able to be prevented. This however does not prevent other illnesses from being able to proliferate, such as ear and sinus infections, people with medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, pregnancy or heart related problems have a risk of their condition becoming more severe because their immune system is incapacitated (CDC 2009.) Even with these still prevalent threats, the risk of subsequent death from the H1N1 influenza virus is severely lowered because it's main cause of death can be prevented. Pneumovax will not prevent all deaths related to swine-flu pneumonia. It will however prevent the deaths of one-third of people who contract the virus and are infected with pneumonia. It is not a miracle vaccine that will stop swine flu in its tracts, it will only boost the person's ability to fight off the bacteria which creates pneumonia (LA Times 2009a.)
Pneumovax will not be able to prevent all cases of swine flu related pneumonia. While Pneumovax prevents bacterial related pneumonia it does not prevent against viral causes pneumonia. This is seen in pregnant women, who are six times as likely to die from swine flu related pneumonia. Pneumovax though does vaccinate a person against twenty-three strains of S. pneumoniae (LA Times 2009a.)
I would recommend that your children be vaccinated with Pneumovax against swine flu related pneumonia, especially Samuel. Children have a higher rate of developing swine flu (MedicineNetb) and have a better chance of contracting the virus because children are always in a place with high amounts of people such as a summer camp or school. You yourself should get the vaccine because you are around your children. Samuel is at a more significant risk because he has asthma. Him being a child too also puts him at greater risk because many people under twenty-four years of age are at high risk on getting H1N1 (MedicineNetb.) The vaccine will not hurt the kid's lung because the vaccine is designed to attack pneumoniae strains specifically.
I think all of you should get the Pneumovax vaccine. Since the children are going to school and flu season coming, it would be better to be safe than sorry. If one of you actually do contract swine flu, you will be better off because there's a less chance of pneumonia affecting you but you still need to be weary of Samuel's asthma. I hope you and the kids are well and hopefully do not contract swine flu. Take care, cover you nose when u sneeze and use hand sanitizer to keep any bacterium away!
Take care, Michael Vasquez