Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against bacterial infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci). Pneumococcal infections Pneumococcal Infections Pneumococcal infections are caused by the gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure How Bacteria Shape Up) Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci). These bacteria commonly... read more include ear infections Otitis Media (Acute) Acute otitis media is a bacterial or viral infection of the middle ear. Acute otitis media often occurs in people with a cold or allergies. The infected ear is painful. Doctors examine the eardrum... read more , sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses, most commonly caused by a viral or bacterial infection or by an allergy. Some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis are pain, tenderness, nasal congestion... read more , pneumonia Overview of Pneumonia Pneumonia is an infection of the small air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) and the tissues around them. Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death worldwide. Often, pneumonia is the final... read more , bloodstream infections Bacteremia Bacteremia is the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream. Bacteremia may result from ordinary activities (such as vigorous toothbrushing), dental or medical procedures, or from infections ... read more , and meningitis Acute Bacterial Meningitis Acute bacterial meningitis is rapidly developing inflammation of the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and of the fluid-filled space between the meninges (subarachnoid... read more .
For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV13) vaccine information statement and Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccine information statement.
(See also Overview of Immunization Overview of Immunization Immunization (vaccination) helps the body defend itself against diseases caused by certain bacteria or viruses. Immunity (the ability of the body to defend itself against diseases caused by... read more .)
There are more than 90 different types of pneumococci. Vaccines are directed against many of the types most likely to cause serious disease. Two types of pneumococcal vaccines are available: conjugate and polysaccharide.
The conjugate vaccine PCV13 protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria (pneumococci).
The conjugate vaccine PCV15 protects against 15 types of pneumococci.
The conjugate vaccine PCV20 protects against 20 types of pneumococci.
The polysaccharide vaccine PPSV23 protects against 23 types of pneumococci.
Administration of Pneumococcal Vaccine
All of the pneumococcal vaccines are injected into a muscle. Recommendations and the vaccine given depend on the person's age and other factors:
All children: Most children are given the PCV13 vaccine, typically at age 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months as a part of routine childhood vaccination Childhood Vaccination Schedule Most doctors follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC—see the schedule for infants and children and the schedule for older children... read more .
People aged 65 years and over: Those who have not previously received a conjugate vaccine or whose vaccination history is unknown can receive PCV20 or PCV15 followed by a dose of PPSV23 at least 1 year later.
People aged 19 to 64 years: Those who have certain conditions or risk factors (see below), have not previously received a conjugate vaccine, and whose vaccination history is unknown can receive PCV20 or PCV15 followed by a dose of PPSV23 at least 8 weeks later.
People aged 19 to 64 years who have any of the following should receive pneumococcal vaccine:
Chronic kidney disease Chronic Kidney Disease Chronic kidney disease is a slowly progressive (months to years) decline in the kidneys’ ability to filter metabolic waste products from the blood. Major causes are diabetes and high blood pressure... read more or nephrotic syndrome Nephrotic Syndrome Nephrotic syndrome is a disorder of the glomeruli (clusters of microscopic blood vessels in the kidneys that have small pores through which blood is filtered) in which excessive amounts of protein... read more
Cerebrospinal fluid leak
A weakened immune system (including those with HIV infection Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells and is treated with antiretroviral medications. If untreated, it can cause... read more , leukemia Overview of Leukemia Leukemias are cancers of white blood cells or of cells that develop into white blood cells. White blood cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Sometimes the development goes awry... read more , lymphoma Overview of Lymphoma Lymphomas are cancers of lymphocytes, which reside in the lymphatic system and in blood-forming organs. Lymphomas are cancers of a specific type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. These... read more , or advanced cancer, those who take drugs that suppress the immune system [immunosuppressants], and those who have had certain organ transplants Overview of Transplantation Transplantation is the removal of living, functioning cells, tissues, or organs from the body and then their transfer back into the same body or into a different body. The most common type of... read more )
Chronic heart, lung (including asthma Asthma Asthma is a condition in which the airways narrow—usually reversibly—in response to certain stimuli. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that occur in response to specific triggers are... read more and emphysema Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is persistent narrowing (blocking, or obstruction) of the airways occurring with emphysema, chronic obstructive bronchitis, or both disorders. Cigarette... read more ), or liver disorder
If people have a temporary illness, doctors usually wait to give the vaccine until the illness resolves (see also CDC: Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated With These Vaccines?).
Side Effects of Pneumococcal Vaccine
Occasionally, the injection site becomes painful and red. Other side effects include fever, irritability, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and vomiting.
The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Information statement about pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) vaccine
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): Pneumococcal Disease: Recommended vaccinations 2023