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). The type of vaccine used depends on a
While meningitis is rare, it's a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. So it's a good idea to know typical meningitis symptoms. The most common are:
Stiff neck, sometimes so stiff that it's difficult to touch the chin to the chest
Headache, sometimes severe
Nausea or vomiting
Discomfort from bright lights
Sometimes, these symptoms follow a flu-like illness, ear infection, or sinus infection.
If your child...
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is approved for
infants and toddlers. Children who are vaccinated when they are infants will be
protected when they are at greatest risk for serious disease.
Who should get the vaccine and when?
Four doses are given to all children-one at age 2 months, one at 4 months, one at 6 months, and one at 12 to 15 months.
One dose is given to healthy children ages 24 to 59 months who did not get all the doses before.
Children ages 24 to 71 months who have medical conditions and did not get all the doses before may need one or two doses.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine may be given at the same time
as other vaccines.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)
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, children under 2 years of age, 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.
Who should get PPSV?
All adults 65 years of age or
People 2 years of age or older who have a long-term health
problem, such as:
Most adults only need one dose of PPSV for protection. Some people may need a booster shot after 5 years.
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.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
March 17, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 17, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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