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Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine

Why get vaccinated?

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13, PCV15, and PCV20) 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 of age, people with certain medical conditions, and adults 65 years and 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.

What is 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 their age and medical status.

Who should get pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and when?

PCV13 and PCV15 vaccine

Infants and young children usually need 4 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12–15 months.

Children 24–59 months of age may receive pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if they did not receive the recommended doses as infants and young children.

Children and adolescents 5–18 years of age with certain medical conditions may need a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if they did not already receive the recommended doses of PCV13 or PCV15.

PCV15 and PCV20 vaccine

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

  • a single dose of PCV15 followed by a dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), or
  • a single dose of PCV20

Adults 65 years old or older who have not already received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should receive either:

  • a single dose of PCV15 followed by a dose of PPSV23, or
  • single dose of PCV20

Some adults who have already received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine may need another type of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Your health care provider can give you more information.

Talk with your healthcare provider

Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of PCV13, PCV15, PCV20, or to 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 before getting pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

What are the 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, and chills can happen after pneumococcal conjugate vaccination.

Young children may be at increased risk for seizures caused by fever after 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 reaction?

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 http://www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff does 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 http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.

How can I learn more?

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13) Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program. 5/12/2023.

Brand names

  • Prevnar 13?
  • Prevnar 20?
  • Vaxneuvance?

Other names

  • PCV13
  • PCV15
  • PCV20
Last Revised - 06/15/2023

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