Pneumococcus is a type of bacteria that can cause several
severe infections, including
meningitis, and blood infections (sepsis). These infections can be serious and even
life-threatening, especially in people with
impaired immune systems, older adults, and children
younger than 2 years of age.
Doctors use two types of pneumococcal
vaccines for routine
immunization: pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) or
pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV).
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all
infants and toddlers. It is also recommended for adults 19 and older who have immune system problems, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, cochlear implants, no spleen, or a damaged spleen.
Children who are vaccinated when they are infants will be
protected when they are at greatest risk for serious disease.
This vaccine is recommended for all adults 65 years of age or older and for all adults who smoke cigarettes. It's also recommended for people ages 2 years or older who have certain health problems.
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) protects
against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Most healthy adults who get the
vaccine develop protection to most or all of these types within 2 to 3 weeks of
getting the shot. Older adults and people
with some long-term illnesses might not respond as well or at all. But these people should still be vaccinated, because they are more likely to
get seriously ill from pneumococcal disease.
Some adults need both PCV and PPSV vaccines.
Pregnancy: There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to either the
mother or the fetus, but pregnant women should consult with their doctors before
being vaccinated. Women who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease should be
vaccinated before becoming pregnant, if possible.
For more information about these and other vaccines, go to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
November 15, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
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