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The best way to prevent pneumococcal disease is by getting vaccinated. Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against some of the more than 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria.


The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13®) protects against the 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause most of the severe illness in children and adults. The vaccine can also help prevent some ear infections. PCV13 is recommended for all children at 2, 4, 6, and 12 through 15 months old. PCV13 is also recommended for adults 19 years or older with certain medical conditions and in all adults 65 years or older.

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax 23®) protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years or older and for anyone who is 2 years or older at high risk for disease. PPSV23 is also recommended for adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes or who have asthma.

It is also important to get an influenza vaccine every year because having the flu increases your chances of getting pneumococcal disease.

For more information on who should get either of these pneumococcal vaccines, see the childhood[4 pages] and adult[3 pages] immunization schedules, or talk to your doctor or nurse.


Since it's not common for people to develop an infection after being exposed to someone with a pneumococcal infection, prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics are not recommended for contacts of patients with such infections.

Previous Infection

Because there are more than 90 known pneumococcal serotypes (strains or types) that cause disease, a previous pneumococcal infection will not protect you from future infection. Therefore, pneumococcal vaccines are still recommended for children and adults who have had pneumococcal disease in the past.

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