What Is Pneumococcal Disease?
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae . It can lead to:
Streptococcus pneumoniae is spread by person to person contact.
What Is the Pneumococcal Vaccine?
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines:
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)—recommended for infants and toddlers. The PCV13 vaccine protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. It replaces the PCV7 vaccine.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)—recommended for certain children and adults
The vaccines are made from inactivated bacteria. It is given by injection under the skin or into the muscle. The goal of getting a vaccine is that later, when you are exposed to the bacteria, you will not get sick from it.
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
The PCV is routinely given in four doses at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months.
If your child has not been vaccinated or missed a dose, talk to the doctor. Depending on your child's age, he may need additional doses. Also, an additional dose may be needed if your child:
- Is less than five years old and was given PCV7 (an earlier version of the vaccine)
- Has a condition that puts him at higher risk for severe disease
The PPSV is given to adults aged 65 and older.
PPSV is also given to anyone aged 2 to 64 who has certain conditions, such as:
- Heart or lung disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Cerebrospinal fluid leaks
- Cochlear implants
- Hodgkin's disease
- Lymphoma or leukemia
- Kidney failure
- Multiple myeloma
- Nephrotic syndrome
- HIV or AIDS or other disease the creates a weak immune system
- Damaged spleen or no spleen
- An organ transplant
PPSV is also given to anyone aged 2 to 64 who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body's ability to resist infection, such as:
- Long-term steroids
- Certain cancer drugs
- Radiation therapy
The vaccine should be given at least 2 weeks before cancer treatment begins.
PPSV should also be given to any adult aged 19 to 64 years old who:
- Is a smoker
- Has asthma
- Having certain conditions, such as:
- Taking medicine that suppresses the immune system
In some cases, a second dose of PPSV may be needed. For example, another dose after five years may be needed for people aged 19-64 years who have conditions like chronic renal failure or HIV/AIDS. A second dose is also recommended at age 65 for people who received a dose previously
What Are the Risks Associated With the Pneumococcal Vaccine?
Side effects include redness, tenderness, or swelling at the injection site. Fever is also a risk. Drowsiness and loss of appetite occur in some children. Fussiness can also occur. Generally, all vaccines have a very small risk of serious problems.
Acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol) is sometimes given to reduce pain and fever that may occur after getting a vaccine. In infants, the medicine may weaken the vaccine's effectiveness. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking acetaminophen with the doctor.
Half of the people who get the vaccine have mild side effects. These may include redness or pain at the injection site. Less than 1% will develop a fever, muscle aches, or more severe local reactions. In rare cases, severe allergic reactions and other serious problems occur. However, developing the disease is much more likely to cause serious problems than getting the vaccine.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Your child should not receive the PCV if he:
- Had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of PCV
- Had a severe allergy to one of the vaccine's parts
- Is very ill (wait until your child recovers)
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 components
- Are very ill (wait until you recover)
What Other Ways Can Pneumococcal Disease Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
- Avoid close contact with people who have infections.
- Wash your hands regularly to reduce your risk of infection.
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
In the event of an outbreak, all people who are eligible for a vaccine should receive it.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 12/2012 -
- Update Date: 12/12/2012 -