ABCD of Pneumococcal Vaccine

Pneumonia due to pneumococcus is very common among the population. Apart from pneumonia. it also causes meningitis (infection of brain). Here is all you should know about the pneumococcal vaccine.

Candidates for vaccines:

  • children < 2 years of age.
  • elderly > 65 years of age.
  • those with weak immune system – heart disease, kidney disease, asthma and diabetics.
  • people who have undergone organ transplant.
  • cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
  • people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • chronic smokers and alcoholics.
  • patients recovering from major illness with prolong ICU stay.

Vaccine NOT Recommended:

  • pregnant females
  • any previous allergic reeaction to vaccine component.
  • 18-64 healthy adults.
  • children or adult who are ill should wait till recovery before getting the vaccine.

Types of Vaccines Available ?

  1. Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV 23 or Pneumovax 23)
  2. Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine ( Prevnar 13 or PCV 13).

Dosing Schedule:

  • PPSV 23: single dose.
  • PCV 13: 3 doses at 6 ,10 and 14 weeks of age and booster at 15-18 months of age. If vaccination started >6 mnth then only 2 doses at 1 month interval. adults are given single dose when required.

Side Defects of Vaccine:

  • Reactions where the shot was given
    • Redness
    • Swelling
    • Pain or tenderness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fussiness (irritability)
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Chills


Vaccines  do prevent against pneumococcal infection but not against all strains. The various studies have shown that even one dose of pneumococcal infection protects:

  • At least 8 out of 10 babies from invasive pneumococcal disease
  • 75 out of 100 adults 65 years or older against invasive pneumococcal disease
  • 45 out of 100 adults 65 years or older against pneumococcal pneumonia

Studies* show that 1 dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23®) protects

  • Between 50 to 85 out of 100 healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease.

Hence, the final verdict,  “Prevention is always better than cure”.

Dr. Anu Sharma