Pneumococcal Vaccine

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Pneumococcal vaccines are the best way to prevent pneumococcal disease. They are safe and effective. The vaccines are given as shots (injections). This can be done at your healthcare provider's office or a health clinic. Pharmacies, senior centers, and workplaces often offer vaccinations, too. Your healthcare provider can help you know which vaccine is best for you.

Two types of vaccines protect people against pneumococcal disease:

  • PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
  • PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine)

What is pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae). This germ is easily spread when someone with the bacteria coughs, sneezes, laughs, or talks. You can get pneumococcal disease more than once. This is because there are many different types (strains) of the bacteria. Some strains are also resistant to treatment with antibiotics.

There are different kinds of pneumococcal disease, depending on what part of the body is infected. They include:

  • Pneumonia. Infection in the lungs.

  • Meningitis. Infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord.

  • Otitis media. Infection of the middle ear.

  • Bacteremia or septicemia. Infection in the blood.

Pneumococcal disease can be life-threatening, especially for people in high-risk groups. Each year, thousands of people die from this disease. Thousands more become seriously ill.

Who should get the vaccine?

Healthcare provider giving injection in woman's upper arm.

Pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for:

  • All people 65 and older

  • All children younger than 2

  • People with chronic health problems such as:

    • Diabetes
    • Heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease
    • Sickle cell anemia
    • Asthma or other lung disease
    • Alcoholism

  • People who have a cochlear implant or who have had a spinal fluid leak

  • People who have weak immune systems, such as from:

    • Cancer
    • HIV or AIDS
    • A damaged or removed spleen
    • Having an organ transplant

  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities

  • Adults who smoke cigarettes

Which vaccine is needed and when?

  • All children younger than 2 years. A 4-dose series of PCV13 is recommended at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age.
  • Ages 2 to 19 years with health conditions. PCV13 or PPSV23 is recommended. Talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Adults 19 to 64 years who smoke cigarettes. PPSV23 is recommended. Talk with your healthcare provider.
  • Adults 65 years and older. A dose of PCV13 and a dose of PPSV23 are recommended. Talk with your healthcare provider. The timing and order of the shots will vary depending on whether you’ve been vaccinated before and if you have health conditions. You should not get both PCV13 and PPSV23 on the same day. Once you are fully vaccinated, you should get a booster dose of PPSV23 every 5 to 10 years.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alan J Blaivas DO

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC

Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019

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