Pneumococcal Vaccination

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Vaccines are the best way to prevent pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease is common in young children, but older adults are at greatest risk of serious illness and death. 

Two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines are used in the United States help protect against pneumococcal disease:

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20)
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)

These vaccines protect against many, but not all types of pneumococcal bacteria. Also, the protection from these vaccines is good but not perfect (or 100%). For these two reasons, there is still a chance someone can develop pneumococcal disease after vaccination.

CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for young children, older adults, and certain other people

Recommended pneumococcal vaccines for children

All children younger than 5 years old and children 5 through 18 years old with certain medical conditions that increase their risk of pneumococcal disease should receive PCV13 or PCV15.

Children 2 through 18 years old with certain medical conditions should also receive PPSV23.

Recommended pneumococcal vaccines for adults

Adults who have never received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should receive PCV15 or PCV20 if they

  • Are 65 years and older
  • Are 19 through 64 years old and have certain medical conditions or other risk factors

If PCV15 is used, it should be followed by a dose of PPSV23.

Some groups may need multiple or booster doses. Talk with your or your child’s doctor about what is best for your specific situation.

Pneumococcal vaccines are safe but side effects can occur

Most people who get a pneumococcal vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. However, side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild, meaning they do not affect daily activities.

Mild problems following PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20 can include:

  • Reactions where the shot was given
    • Redness
    • Swelling
    • Pain or tenderness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fussiness (irritability)
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Chills

Mild problems following PPSV23 can include:

  • Reactions where the shot was given
    • Redness
    • Pain
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches

If these problems occur, they usually go away within about 2 days.

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