The pneumococcal vaccine protects against infections caused
by Streptococcus pneumoniae. These bacteria can cause:
Infections can be quite serious. For example, meningitis can
cause severe complications including:
Infections caused by S.
pneumoniae can also be difficult to treat. Some strains are resistant to
antibiotics. Therefore, prevention is very important.
There are currently two pneumococcal vaccines used in the
The PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. There are more than 90
types of pneumococcal bacteria. A four-dose series
is recommended in children, as follows.
dose: 2 months old
dose: 4 months old
dose: 6 months old
dose: 12 to 15 months old
Healthy children who have not finished vaccination by age 2
should get one dose. Children with certain chronic diseases may need additional
doses between the ages of 2 and 6. Children who began immunization with the
older PCV7 vaccine can continue the series using PCV13.
The PPSV (pneumococcal polysaccharide
vaccine) protects against 23 types of bacteria. It’s recommended for all adults
over 65 years old. It can also be given to younger people with certain health
This vaccine is also used in smokers and those with asthma.
People usually only need one dose of PPSV. However, some people may need a
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Certain people should not receive this vaccination. This includes
anyone who has:
- had a
severe allergic reaction to a past dose of the vaccine
- had an
allergic reaction to any vaccines containing diphtheria toxoid (PCV13
to any component of the vaccine
- a current moderate to severe
PPSV is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Women at
high risk of disease should get it before becoming pregnant.
Potential Side Effects
Serious side effects from these vaccines are extremely rare.
However, some people may have mild side effects like:
at the site of the shot
or swelling at the site of the shot
loss of appetite
The risk of higher fever is about one in 20 with PCV13.