What Is Pneumococcal Disease?
Pneumococcal disease is an infection. It is caused by certain bacteria. It can lead to:
It is spread by person-to-person contact.
What Is the Pneumococcal Vaccine?
There are two types of vaccines:
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)—protects against 13 types of the bacteria.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)—protects against 23 types of the bacteria.
The vaccines are made from inactivated bacteria. They are injected under the skin or into the muscle. The goal is to prevent getting sick if exposed to the infection later.
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
The PCV is given in 4 doses at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months. It can also be given to children with certain health conditions. It is advised for all adults aged 65 years and older, as well.
If your child has not been vaccinated or missed a dose, talk to their doctor. More doses may be needed. Also, an extra dose may be needed if your child has certain health conditions.
Adults 65 years old and older may receive PCV followed by PPSV.
The PPSV is given to adults aged 65 years and older.
PPSV is also given to anyone aged 2 to 64 years who has:
- Certain long-term diseases, such as:
- Kidney problems such as kidney failure and nephrotic syndrome
- Cerebrospinal fluid leaks
- Cochlear implants
- Certain blood cancers, such as:
Conditions that weaken the immune system such as:
- HIV or AIDS
- Certain medicines and cancer treatments
- Damaged spleen or no spleen
- An organ transplant
The vaccine is also advised for smokers.
People with certain conditions may need a second dose of PPSV. It should be 5 years after the first dose.
What Are the Risks Associated With the Pneumococcal Vaccine?
Generally, all vaccines have a small risk of serious problems. Side effects of PCV include:
- Redness, soreness, or swelling at the injection site
- Loss of hunger
Acetaminophen may weaken the vaccine's effect. Do not use it without taking to the doctor first.
Side effects may include:
- Redness or pain at the injection site
- Muscle aches
- Severe allergic reactions—rare
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Children who should not get the vaccine are those who:
- Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of PCV
- Have had a severe allergy to one of the vaccine's parts
- Are very ill
You should not receive the PPSV if you:
- Had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of PPSV
- Had a severe allergy to one of the vaccine's parts
- Are very ill
What Other Ways Can Pneumococcal Disease Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
The risk of pneumococcal disease can be reduced by:
- Avoiding close contact with people who have infections.
- Washing hands often.
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
If there is an outbreak, those who can get the vaccine should get it.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://familydoctor.org
Vaccines & Immunizations Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov
Berical AC, Harris D, et al. Pneumococcal vaccination strategies. An update and perspective. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2016;13(6):933-44.
Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Accessed August 23, 2021.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://vaccineinformation.org/pneumococcal/. Accessed August 23, 2021.
Pneumococcal disease. Immunization Action Coalition website. Available at: . Accessed August 23, 2021.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/ppv.pdf. Accessed August 23, 2021.
Pneumococcal vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/index.html. Accessed August 23, 2021.
Pneumococcal vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/pneumococcal-vaccination. Accessed August 23, 2021.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 07/2021
- Update Date: 08/23/2021