Pneumococcus is a type of bacteria that can cause several severe infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections (sepsis). These infections can be serious and even life-threatening, especially in people with impaired immune systems, older adults, and children younger than 2 years of age.
Doctors use two types of pneumococcal vaccines for routine immunization: pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) or pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV). The type of vaccine used depends on a person's age.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is approved for infants and toddlers. Children who are vaccinated when they are infants will be protected when they are at greatest risk for serious disease.
Who should get the vaccine and when?
- Four doses are given to all children—one at age 2 months, one at 4 months, one at 6 months, and one at 12 to 15 months.
- One dose is given to healthy children ages 24 to 59 months who did not get all the doses before.
- Children ages 24 to 71 months who have medical conditions and did not get all the doses before may need one or two doses.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Most healthy adults who get the vaccine develop protection to most or all of these types within 2 to 3 weeks of getting the shot. Older adults, children under 2 years of age, and people with some long-term illnesses might not respond as well or at all. But these people should still be vaccinated, because they are more likely to get seriously ill from pneumococcal disease.
Who should get PPSV?
- All adults 65 years of age or older
- People 2 years of age or older who have a long-term health
problem, such as:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Leaks of cerebrospinal fluid
- People 2 years of age or older who have a disease or
condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as:
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Lymphoma, leukemia
- Kidney failure
- Multiple myeloma
- Nephrotic syndrome
- HIV infection or AIDS
- Damaged spleen, or no spleen
- Organ transplant
- People 2 years of age or older who are taking any drug
or having treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as:
- Long-term steroids
- Certain cancer drugs
- Radiation therapy
- People ages 19 to 64 who smoke cigarettes.
How many doses of PPSV are needed?
Most adults only need one dose of PPSV for protection. Some people may need a booster shot after 5 years.
Pregnancy: There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to either the mother or the fetus, but pregnant women should consult with their doctors before being vaccinated. Women who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated before becoming pregnant, if possible.
For more information about these and other vaccines, go to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Last Revised: March 17, 2011
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