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Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) - What you need to know

Definition

All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/pcv.html

Information

Why Get Vaccinated?

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can prevent pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease refers to any illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria. These bacteria can cause many types of illnesses, including pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. Pneumococcal bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia.

Besides pneumonia, pneumococcal bacteria can also cause:

  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Meningitis (infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
  • Bacteremia (infection of the blood)

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years old, people with certain medical conditions or other risk factors, and adults 65 years or older are at the highest risk.

Most pneumococcal infections are mild. However, some can result in long-term problems, such as brain damage or hearing loss. Meningitis, bacteremia, and pneumonia caused by pneumococcal disease can be fatal.

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helps protect against bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease. There are three pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, and PCV20). The different vaccines are recommended for different people based on age and medical status. Your health care provider can help you determine which type of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, and how many doses, you should receive.

Infants and young children usually need 4 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. These doses are recommended, at 2, 4, 6, and 12 - 15 months of age.

Older children and adolescents might need pneumococcal conjugate vaccine depending on their age and medical conditions or other risk factors if they did not receive the recommended doses as infants or young children.

Adults 19 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions or other risk factors who have not already received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should receive pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Talk With Your Health Care Provider

Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of any type of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13, PCV15, PCV20, or an earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine known as PCV7), or to any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid (for example, DTaP), or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone pneumococcal conjugate vaccination until a future visit.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

Risks of a Vaccine Reaction

  • Redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness where the shot is given, and fever, loss of appetite, fussiness (irritability), feeling tired, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, and chills can happen after pneumococcal conjugate vaccination.

Young children may be at increased risk for seizures caused by fever after a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if it is administered at the same time as inactivated influenza vaccine. Ask your health care provider for more information.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

What if There Is a Serious Problem?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.

Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.

How Can I Learn More?

Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Gallery

Pneumococcal vaccine
Pneumococcal vaccine is an immunization against Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacterium that frequently causes meningitis and pneumonia in the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses. Pneumococcal pneumonia accounts for 10% to 25% of all pneumonias.
Vaccines
Vaccines are used to boost your immune system and prevent many diseases, some of which are serious or life-threatening. Vaccines “teach“ your body how to defend itself when germs, such as viruses or bacteria, invade it. After exposure to the vaccine, your immune system learns to recognize and attack the viruses or bacteria if you are exposed to them later in life. As a result, you will not become ill. Or, if you do get the illness, you will likely have a milder infection. Vaccines are very safe and very effective at protecting against certain serious diseases.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Pneumococcal Conjugate VIS. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/pcv.html. Updated May 12, 2023. Accessed June 7, 2023.

Last reviewed February 4, 2022 by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 06/07/2023..

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