Pneumococcal Vaccines: What You Need To Know

What is the pneumococcal vaccine?

The pneumococcal vaccine protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections. It’s also known as the pneumonia vaccine. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines currently available: Prevnar 13 (PCV13) and Pneumovax 23 (PPSV23). Both types of pneumococcal vaccines encourage your body to produce antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Pneumococcus – What Harm Can It Cause?

Streptococcus pneumoniae (also known as Pneumococcus) is a common cause of a bacterial lung infection known as pneumonia. However, Pneumococcus can also cause infections in other parts of the body. For example, it can cause infections in the blood (bacteremia) and brain (meningitis). More than 90 different strains of the bacteria have been identified, although only 8 to 10 of them cause the most serious infections. The childhood vaccine (PCV13) protects against 13 strains of the pneumococcal bacterium, while the adult vaccine (PPSV23) protects against 23 strains.

Who should get the pneumococcal vaccine?

If you are wondering whether you should get the pneumonia shot, the answer is determined by your age. Babies 2 years old and younger and all adults 65 years and older are at greater risk of pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases. Babies receive the PCV13 vaccine as four separate injections, at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 1 year old. Seniors aged 65 years and older should receive both the PCV13 and PPSV23. The two vaccines should not be given in the same visit. Additionally, adults aged 19 to 64 years who have a long-term health condition may need additional doses of the pneumococcal vaccinations, depending on their underlying health problem.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have recently updated their guidelines on the use of PCV13 and PPSV23 in patients aged 65 and older. What we have learned from the new recommendations is that when it comes to preventing pneumonia in adults 65 years and older, the bottom line is clear: Get vaccinated twice. All seniors should receive one dose of PCV13 followed by 1 dose of PPSV23 a year later.

Do you have diabetes?

People with diabetes may be at higher risk of death from pneumonia and should receive the pneumonia vaccine before age 65.

Is the Vaccine Safe?

The most common side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine include pain and tenderness, redness, and hardness or swelling at the site of the injection. Fever and muscle pain or weakness may also occur but are less common.

Not to be given to people who:

Have vaccine allergy. Tell your doctor if you or your child has had a bad reaction to any vaccination in the past. If there’s been a confirmed severe allergic reaction, called an anaphylactic reaction, to the pneumococcal vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine, avoid having it. Having the pneumococcal vaccine is thought to be safe during pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding.

Currently, Medicare Part B pays for both of the pneumococcal vaccines when given one year apart. Call us today to get more information, to determine a copay amount, or to set up an appointment. Remember, vaccines take two weeks to work, so don’t hesitate to get your dose right away!

Phone: 804-288-8361 x 120 or 119


  1. “Do I Need a Pneumonia Vaccine?” WebMD. Accessed September 12, 2018. Available at:
  2. Vaccines and Preventable Diseases. Pneumococcal Vaccination. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February. Available at:
  3. Prevnar 13. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Vaccines, Blood, & Biologics. Approved Products. Available at:
  4. Pneumovax 23 – Pneumococcal Vaccine, Polyvalent. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Vaccines, Blood, & Biologics. Approved Products. Available at:
  5. Prevnar 13. Package insert. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Available at:
  6. Pneumovax 23. Package insert. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Available at:


Katlen Kim, Pharm.D. Candidate 2019

APPE Geriatrics – Bremo | October 2018


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