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Pneumococcal Vaccine


Margot L. Savoy

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

Medically Reviewed Jun 2021 | Modified Sep 2022

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:

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

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

Administration of Pneumococcal Vaccine

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

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:

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 the PPSV23 vaccine 1 year later. If people have already been vaccinated with PPSV23, PCV13 should be given at least 1 year after the most recent dose of PPSV23.

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

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