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Pneumococcal Vaccine


Margot L. Savoy

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

Reviewed/Revised Jan 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. Often, pneumonia is the final... 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 .

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: 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:

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

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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