Pneumococcal Vaccine – Everything You Need To Know

Pneumococcal diseases are becoming more common among adults these days. Each year pneumococcal diseases kill thousands of adults around the world. Additionally, another handful ends up in the hospital.

Pneumococcal infection is caused by the bacteria named ‘Streptococcus pneumoniae’ which causes infection in the lungs (pneumonia), the lining of the brain (meningitis), bloodstream (bacteremia), and the spinal cord (meningitis). With no other possible prevention, vaccines are the best way to prevent pneumococcal diseases.

Pneumonia

There are mainly two types of vaccines that provide protection against this serious disease.

PCV13 – Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine

PVC13 provide protection against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria that are found commonly in children and adults. PCV13 is best recommended for babies, adults over the age 65, and people of the age group 2 to 64 with health conditions such as HIV, diabetes mellitus, heart diseases etc. It is given as several doses to children, and as a single dose to adults.  

To infants, PCV13 is given as a series of four shots. The first shot is given at the age of 2 months, and then at the age of 4 months, 6 months, and 12-15 months.

PPSV23Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

PPSV23 protects people from 23 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria. The vaccine is given as a single shot to adults, and is best recommended for adults over the age 65, people of the age group 2 to 64 with health conditions such as HIV, diabetes mellitus, heart diseases etc., and adults who use tobacco products.

Pneumonia Shots – How long do they last?

The number of shots, and the duration through which they remain effective is mainly decided by the age group that you belong to.

  1. Children under the age of 2 years: Children belonging to this category require four shots which are given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12-15 months of age.
  2. Older than 65 years: Adults of this age group receive two shots which will protect them for the rest of their life.
  3. People of the age group 2 and 64 years: People coming under this category will require anywhere around one to three shots. The number of shots is determined mainly by the immune system disorders and smoking habits of the person.
  • Who Needs The Vaccine & Who Doesn’t?

Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for people of all age group (infants to adults over the age of 65). They are particularly important to be given to individuals suffering from a weak immune system and other health conditions. Adults who use tobacco products are also advised to get vaccinated to prevent the serious disease.

Furthermore, there are a particular group of individuals who shouldn’t get a pneumococcal vaccine as well.  

In case of PCV13 vaccine, individuals who are currently feeling under the weather, or suffering from life-threatening allergies should restrain from getting vaccinated. While this is the same case of PPSV23 as well, pregnant women are also advised to not get PPSV23 vaccine.

  • Side Effects Of Pneumococcal Vaccine

Although not common, sometimes, both adults and children can suffer from serious allergic reactions to pneumococcal vaccines. Though we are speaking about cases that occur to 1 person in a million, we still ought to be careful.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction occur shortly after receiving the vaccines. Some of these symptoms have been listed below.

  1. Wheezing
  2. Lightheaded feeling
  3. Anxiety
  4. Difficulty breathing
  5. Rapid heartbeat
  6. Clammy skin
  7. Confusion

Conclusion

Pneumococcal diseases have the potential to become life-threatening in both children as well as adults. The two vaccines available in the market these days provide ultimate protection against the bacteria. Side effects are always mild and thus resolve in a few days and it is in very rare cases that the allergic reaction occurs.

To be on the safer side, it is always better to talk to a doctor about which pneumococcal vaccine you should get and when.

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