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Pneumococcal Vaccine

By

Margot L. Savoy

, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Last full review/revision Oct 2020| Content last modified Oct 2020
Click here for the Professional Version

Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against bacterial infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococci). Pneumococcal infections include ear infections, sinusitis, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis.

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.

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:

  • The conjugate vaccine (PCV13) protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria (pneumococci).

  • The polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) protects against 23 types of pneumococci.

Administration

The PCV13 vaccine is injected into a muscle. The number of doses depends on the person's age. It is routinely recommended for

  • All children: Given typically at age 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months as a part of routine childhood vaccination

  • People aged 65 years and over who have a condition that weakens their immune system, cerebrospinal fluid leak, or cochlear implant and who have not previously received PCV13

  • People aged 65 years and over who do not have any of the above conditions, provided they discuss the relative risks and benefits of the vaccine with their doctor

The PCV13 vaccine is also recommended for people aged 6 to 64 who are at high risk of developing pneumococcal infections. These people include

The PPSV23 vaccine is injected under the skin or into a muscle. It is routinely recommended for

  • All people aged 65 years and over

If people aged 65 years and over got the PPSV23 vaccine when they were under 65, they are given a second dose, at least 5 years after the first. For example, if they were given the first dose at age 64, they are given the second dose at age 69 or later.

The PPSV23 vaccine is also recommended for people aged 2 to 64 who are at high risk of developing pneumococcal infections. These people include the following:

  • Groups that are listed for the PCV13 vaccine (above)

  • People with a chronic heart disorder, lung disorder (including asthma and emphysema), or liver disorder

  • People with diabetes

  • People with an alcohol use disorder

  • People who smoke cigarettes

PPSV23 vaccine is effective in preventing some of the serious complications of pneumococcal pneumonia (such bloodstream infections), but it is less effective in debilitated older people. If people are given a pneumococcal vaccine for the first time at age 65, they are given the PCV13 vaccine first and thetPPSV23 vaccine 1 year later.

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

Occasionally, the injection site becomes painful and red. Other side effects include fever, irritability, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and vomiting.

More Information

The following are some English-language resources that 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

  • CDC: Information statement about pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) vaccine

  • CDC: Information about people who should NOT get vaccinated with PCV13 or PPSV23 vaccine

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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