The pneumonia shot is a vaccine that helps protect you against pneumococcal disease, or diseases caused by bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. The vaccine can help protect you from pneumococcal disease for many years.
One of the most common causes of pneumonia is infection of the lungs with the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.
The pneumonia shot is especially recommended if you fall into one of these age groups:
- Younger than 2 years old: four shots (at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and then a booster between 12 and 15 months)
- 65 years old or older: two shots, which will last you the rest of your life
- Between 2 and 64 years old: between one and three shots if you have certain immune system disorders or if you’re a smoker
Pneumococcal disease is common among babies and toddlers, so make sure your young child is vaccinated. But older adults are
There are two different types of pneumonia vaccines. These are:
- Pneumonoccal conjugate vaccines (PCV). PCVs contain sugars from the outside of the pneumococcus bacteria which are linked, or conjugated, to a protein. The protein helps to improve the immune response to the vaccine. There are three types of PCV:
- PCV13 (Prevnar13)
- PCV15 (Vaxneuvance)
- PCV20 (Prevnar 20)
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines (PPSV). PPSVs contain purified sugars from the outside of the pneumococcus bacteria. There’s one type of PPSV, called PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23).
The table below helps to explain some of the key differences between the four pneumonia shots.
|What it protects you from||helps protect you against 13 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria||helps protect you against 15 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria||helps protect you against 20 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria||helps protect you against 23 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria|
|Healthy children and adolescents||usually given in four doses to children under age two||usually given in four doses to children under age two||usually given in four doses to children under age two||not given|
|Healthy adults||not given||usually given to adults aged 65 and older who’ve never had a PCV vaccine||usually given to adults aged 65 and older who’ve never had a PCV vaccine||usually given once to adults aged 65 and older one year after receiving the PCV15 vaccine|
|People with certain medical conditions||may also be given to children and adolescents aged two through 18 if they have certain health conditions that increase their risk of pneumococcal disease||may also be given to people aged two through 64 if they have certain health conditions that increase their risk of pneumococcal disease||may also be given to adults aged 19 to 64 if they have certain health conditions that increase their risk of pneumococcal disease||may be given to people aged two through 64 who’ve received the PCV13 or PCV15 vaccine|
Some other things to keep in mind:
- All vaccines help prevent pneumococcal complications like bacteremia and meningitis.
- PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20 can be given to children or adolescents.
- Either PCV15 or PCV20 can be given to adults.
- In some situations, you’ll need to receive PPSV23 after getting PCV13 or PCV15. However, you don’t need to receive PPSV23 if you got PCV20.
- Don’t get the shots too close together. Talk to your healthcare provider about when you’ll need to receive your next dose.
- Check with your doctor to make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients used to make these vaccines before getting your pneumonia shot.
Are there some people who shouldn’t get these vaccines?
Not everyone should get these vaccines. Avoid PCV shots if you’ve had severe allergies in the past to:
- any of the ingredients in the shot
- any version of the PCV shot, including an earlier one called PCV7 (Prevnar)
- any vaccines made with diphtheria toxoid (such as DTaP)
Avoid PPSV23 if you’re allergic to any ingredients in the shot or have had severe allergies to a PPSV23 shot in the past.
If you’re currently very sick, it’s also a good rule of thumb to delay your vaccination until you’ve recovered. If you have a mild illness, such as a cold, it’s generally okay to receive your pneumonia shot.
The immune system reaction after a vaccine has a chance of causing side effects. But keep in mind that the substances that make up vaccines are usually the harmless sugar (polysaccharide) on surface of the bacteria. There’s no need to worry that a vaccine will cause an infection.
Some possible general side effects may include:
- irritation, redness, or swelling where you were injected
- low-grade fever
- muscle or joint aches and pains
Side effects in babies may be different from those in adults and can also include:
Rare but severe side effects in babies can be:
People of all ages with allergies to certain ingredients in the pneumonia shot may have a serious allergic reaction to the shot called anaphylaxis. During anaphylaxis, your throat can swell and make it difficult to breathe. Seek emergency medical attention if this happens.
It’s still possible to get pneumonia even if you’ve had a pneumonia shot. However, getting vaccinated can go a long way in protecting you from becoming seriously ill or developing complications due to a pneumococcal infection.
According to the
The CDC also notes that PPSV23 is
PCV15 and PCV20 are newer vaccines. Because of this, we have a little less data on their effectiveness.
A phase 3 clinical trial of PCV15 in adults aged 50 and over found that it generated a similar immune response as PCV13 while protecting against two additional types of pneumococcal bacteria. A phase 3 clinical trial of PCV20 in adults aged 18 and over had similar findings.
The pneumonia shot is an effective way to help prevent complications caused by a bacterial infection.
Get it at least once in your life, especially if you’re over 64. It’s best to get vaccinated when you’re a baby or if you have a condition that affects your immune system, according to your doctor’s recommendations.