Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, sometimes referred to as pneumococcus. Pneumococcus can cause many types of illnesses, including ear infections and meningitis. Pneumococcal disease is common in young children, but older adults are at greatest risk of serious illness and death. The best way to prevent pneumococcal disease is to get the vaccine.
Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against some of the more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria. There are two kinds of vaccines licensed for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13) and Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 years or older. In certain situations, other children and adults should also get pneumococcal vaccines. Talk to your or your child’s health care professional about what is best for your specific situation.
Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Read the guidelines below and ask your or your child’s health care professional for more information.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine/Prevnar 13: Doctors give this vaccine to children at 2, 4, 6 and 12-15 months old. Adults who need this vaccine only get a single dose. The vaccine helps protect against the 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that most commonly cause serious infections in children and adults. It can also help prevent ear infections and pneumonia caused by those 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
Tell the person who is giving you or your child a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if you or your child have had a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy. Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a dose of this vaccine, an earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine called PCV7 (or Prevnar), any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid (for example, DTaP) or anyone with a severe allergy to any component of PCV13 should not get the vaccine.
Your or your child’s health care professional can tell you about the vaccine’s components.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine/Pneumovax23: Doctors give a single dose of this vaccine to people who need it. CDC recommends one or two additional doses for people with certain chronic medical conditions. This vaccine helps protect against serious infections caused by 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
CDC recommends vaccination with the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults 65 years or older, those 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes. Children younger than 2 years old should not get this vaccine.
Tell the person who is giving you or your child a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine if you or your child have had a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy. Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to PPSV23 should not get another dose, nor should anyone who has a severe allergy to any component of PPSV23.
People who have a mild illness, such as a cold, can probably get either vaccine. People who have a more serious illness should probably wait until they recover. Your or your child’s health care professional can advise you.
There is no evidence that PPSV23 is harmful to a pregnant woman or to her baby. However, as a precaution, women who need the vaccine should get it before becoming pregnant, if possible.
To Your Health is provided by the staff of Boulder City Hospital. For more information, call 702-293-4111, ext. 576, or visit bouldercityhospital.org.