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 cause... 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 , 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 , 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
All children: Given typically at age 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months as a part of routine childhood vaccination Childhood Vaccination Schedule Most doctors follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC—see the schedule for infants and children and the schedule for older children... read more
People aged 65 years and over who have a condition that weakens their immune system, cerebrospinal fluid leak, or cochlear implant and who have not previously received PCV13
People aged 65 years and over who do not have any of the above conditions, provided they discuss the relative risks and benefits of the vaccine with their doctor
The PCV13 vaccine is also recommended for people aged 6 to 64 who are at high risk of developing pneumococcal infections. These people include
Those with chronic kidney disease Chronic Kidney Disease Chronic kidney disease is a slowly progressive (months to years) decline in the kidneys’ ability to filter metabolic waste products from the blood. Major causes are diabetes and high blood pressure... read more or nephrotic syndrome Nephrotic Syndrome Nephrotic syndrome is a disorder of the glomeruli (clusters of microscopic blood vessels in the kidneys that have small pores through which blood is filtered) in which excessive amounts of protein... read more
Those with a cerebrospinal fluid leak
Those with a weakened immune system (including those with HIV infection Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells and can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV is transmitted... read more , leukemia Overview of Leukemia Leukemias are cancers of white blood cells or of cells that develop into white blood cells. White blood cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Sometimes the development goes awry... read more , lymphoma Overview of Lymphoma Lymphomas are cancers of lymphocytes, which reside in the lymphatic system and in blood-forming organs. Lymphomas are cancers of a specific type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. These... read more , or advanced cancer, those who take drugs that suppress the immune system [immunosuppressants], and those who have had certain organ transplants Overview of Transplantation Transplantation is the removal of living, functioning cells, tissues, or organs from the body and then their transfer back into the same body or into a different body. The most common type of... read more )
Those who do not have a functioning spleen (including those with sickle cell disease Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is an inherited genetic abnormality of hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells) characterized by sickle (crescent)-shaped red blood cells and chronic... read more )
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:
Groups that are listed for the PCV13 vaccine (above)
People with a chronic heart disorder, lung disorder (including asthma Asthma Asthma is a condition in which the airways narrow—usually reversibly—in response to certain stimuli. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that occur in response to specific triggers are... read more and emphysema Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is persistent narrowing (blocking, or obstruction) of the airways occurring with emphysema, chronic obstructive bronchitis, or both disorders. Cigarette... read more ), or liver disorder
People with an alcohol use disorder
People who smoke cigarettes
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.
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.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Information statement about pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13) vaccine