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?
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?
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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