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Pneumococcal Vaccine


Margot L. Savoy

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

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023

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 Otitis Media (Acute) , 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. The most common symptom of... read more Overview of Pneumonia , 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 .

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.

Children up to 18 years of age should receive the pneumococcal vaccine, usually in 4 doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months, as a part of the routine vaccination schedule recommended for children (see CDC: Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule by Age)..

People 65 years old and over who have not previously received a conjugate vaccine or whose vaccination history is unknown should receive either

  • 1 dose of PCV20 or

  • 1 dose of PCV15 followed by a dose of PPSV23

People 19 to 64 years old who have certain conditions or risk factors (see below), have not previously received a conjugate vaccine, and whose vaccination history is unknown should receive either

  • 1 dose of PCV20 or

  • 1 dose of PCV15 followed by a dose of PPSV23

People 19 to 64 years old who have any of the following should receive pneumococcal vaccine:

For both adult age groups, the dose of PPSV23 should follow the dose of PCV15 by at least 1 year. However, a minimum of 8 weeks between PCV15 and PPSV23 is sometimes considered for adults with an immunocompromising condition, cochlear implant, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak. Also, for those who have previously received a dose of pneumococcal vaccine, see detailed recommendations regarding further pneumococcal vaccine dosing at CDC: Recommendations for Ages 19 Years or Older.

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.

More Information

The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

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