Understanding Pneumococcal Vaccines

Vaccines significantly reduce the risk for disease. Pneumococcal vaccination is the most effective way to help prevent pneumococcal diseases. Find out who is at the greatest risk for pneumococcal disease, and who should receive pneumococcal vaccines.

What is pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal diseases are infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. This includes pneumonia, bacterial meningitis, sinus infections, middle ear infections, and blood infections. These diseases commonly affect young children, but older adults are at the greatest risk from pneumococcal disease.

S. pneumoniae colonizes the nasopharynx, or the upper part of the throat behind the nose. The bacteria is transmitted from person to person through saliva or mucus from coughing or sneezing. It’s possible to carry the bacteria without getting sick from an infection.

Pneumococcal vaccines are the best way to help prevent pneumococcal disease.

What are pneumococcal vaccines?

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent pneumococcal disease. There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccine in the U.S. – pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV or PCV13) offers protection from the 13 types of bacteria that cause the most severe infections. This vaccine is recommended for children under two years of age and adults over 65 years of age.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV or PPSV23) protects against 23 different types of bacteria. This is the vaccine recommended for adults 65 and older, and some children at an increased risk for pneumococcal disease.

Who should get pneumococcal vaccines?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that babies receive PCV13 at 2,4,6, and 12-15 months.

Adults over 65 years of age should receive both PCV13 and PPSV23.

Some people are at a high risk for pneumococcal disease should consider receiving a vaccination.

For example, those with compromised immune systems, liver, lung, kidney, or heart disease, sickle cell disease, HIV infection, diabetes, asthma, or pulmonary disease are at a higher risk of infection. The CDC also recommends PPSV23 for adults 19 to 64 who smoke.

Talk to your doctor if you are included in any of these groups. Read the full CDC pneumococcal vaccine recommendations.

Pneumococcal vaccines in Northwest Arkansas

Pneumococcal infections can be serious, and in some cases life threatening. They can also be prevented. Talk to a MANA doctor today about vaccinating against pneumococcal diseases.

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