Vaccines and Preventable Diseases:
Pneumococcal Disease In-Short
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). There are different types of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia, meningitis, and otitis media.
The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis include stiff neck, fever, mental confusion and disorientation, and visual sensitivity to light (photophobia). The symptoms of pneumococcal bacteremia (a bloodstream infection) may be similar to some of the symptoms of pneumonia and meningitis, along with joint pain and chills. The symptoms of otitis media (middle ear infection) typically include a painful ear, a red or swollen eardrum, and sometimes sleeplessness, fever and irritability.
Pneumococcal disease can be fatal. In some cases, it can result in long-term problems, like brain damage, hearing loss, and limb loss.
Pneumococcus (a type of bacteria) is in many people's noses and throats and is spread by coughing, sneezing, or contact with respiratory secretions. Why it suddenly invades the body and causes disease is unknown.
Pneumococcal vaccine is very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However it is not guaranteed to prevent infection and symptoms in all people.
There are currently 2 types of pneumococcal vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
Does my child need the PCV13 vaccine?
- Infants and Children younger than 2 Years of Age
- PCV13 is routinely given to infants as a series of 4 doses, one dose at each of these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months.
- Children who miss their shots or start the series later should still get the vaccine. The number of doses recommended and the intervals between doses will depend on the child’s age when vaccination begins. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
- Children 2 through 5 Years of Age
- Healthy children 24 months through 4 years of age who are unvaccinated or have not completed the PCV13 series should get 1 dose.
- Children 24 months through 5 years of age with medical conditions such as the following should get 1 or 2 doses of PCV13 if they have not already completed the 4-dose series. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
- Sickle cell disease
- A damaged spleen or no spleen
- Cochlear implant(s)
- Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks,
- HIV/AIDS or other diseases that affect the immune system (such as diabetes, cancer, or liver disease),
- Chronic heart or lung disease,
- Children who take medications that affect the immune system, such as chemotherapy or steroids.
- Children 6 through 18 Years of Age
- A single dose of PCV13 may be given to children 6 through 18 years of age with certain medical conditions (i.e., sickle cell disease, HIV-infection, or other immunocompromising condition, cochlear implant, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks), regardless of whether they have previously received a pneumococcal vaccine. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
PCV13 may be given at the same time as other vaccines, except for meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Children with a damaged spleen or no spleen should complete the PCV13 recommended series before getting meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
For additional details, consult the PCV Vaccine Information Statement [59KB - 2 pages] (compliant), the Child Immunization Schedule, the Licensure of a PCV13 for Use of PCV13 Among Children —ACIP, 2010, Mar 2010.
- All adults 65 years of age and older.
- Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a long-term health problem such as: heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid or cochlear implant.
- Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: Hodgkin’s disease; lymphoma or leukemia; kidney failure; multiple myeloma; nephrotic syndrome; HIV infection or AIDS; damaged spleen, or no spleen; organ transplant.
- Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, radiation therapy.
- Any adult 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma.
- Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
PPSV may be less effective for some people, especially those with lower resistance to infection.
But these people should still be vaccinated, because they are more likely to have serious complications if they get pneumococcal disease.
Children who often get ear infections, sinus infections, or other upper respiratory diseases, but who are otherwise healthy, do not need to get PPSV because it is not effective against those conditions.
For additional details, consult the PPSV Vaccine Information Statement [125KB - 2 pages] (compliant), the Adult Immunization Schedule, and the ACIP Recommendations for Use of Pneumococcal Vaccines, Sept 2010.
- Adults 19 years of age or older with certain medical conditions, and who have not previously received PCV13. Medical conditions include:
- Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
- Cochlear implant(s)
- Sickle cell disease and other hemaglobinopathies
- Functional or anatomic asplenia
- Congenital or acquired immunodeficiencies
- HIV infection
- Chronic renal failure
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Hodgkin disease
- Generalized malignancy
- Long-term immunosuppressive therapy
- Solid organ transplant
- Multiple myeloma
- Adults with one of the above listed conditions who have not received any pneumococcal vaccine, should get a dose of PCV13 first and should also continue to receive the recommended doses of PPSV23. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
- Adults who have previously received one or more doses of PPSV23, and have one of the above listed conditions should also receive a dose of PCV13 and should continue to receive the remaining recommended doses of PPSV. Ask you healthcare provider for details.
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Content last reviewed on April 1, 2011
Content Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases