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Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helps protect against pneumococcal disease. Different types of pneumococcal disease include infections in the ears, lungs, or around the brain.

Information

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a germ (bacterium) called Streptococcus pneumoniae (S pneumoniae).

PCV, or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, protects against 13 of the over 90 types (strains) of S pneumoniae. For this reason, this vaccine is called PCV13 for short. These 13 types of S pneumoniae cause the most severe illness.

The vaccine is made from smaller pieces of the 13 types of whole bacteria. After getting the vaccine, the body learns to attack the bacteria if the person is exposed to them. As a result, it is unlikely the person will get sick with infections caused by any of the 13 types of S pneumoniae.

WHO SHOULD GET THIS VACCINE

PCV13 is one of the recommended childhood immunizations. Many states require proof that a child has received the vaccine before starting daycare or preschool.

Children should get four doses (shots) of PCV13. One dose should be received at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 to 15 months

PCV13 may be given to older children and adults with a weakened immune system from conditions such as kidney or spleen problems.

PCV13 is not the same as the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), which is for children over 2 and for adults. Your health care provider can tell you which vaccine is right for you or your child.

WHO SHOULD NOT GET THIS VACCINE

  • Persons who received a dose of PCV13 and developed an allergy from it.
  • Persons who developed an allergy from another pneumococcal vaccine called PCV7 or from any diphtheria vaccine (DTaP, Tdap, Td) should not receive PCV13.
  • Pregnant women should ask their health care provider if PCV13 is safe for them.
  • Persons who are ill with something more severe than a cold or have a fever should reschedule their vaccination until after they are recovered. 

RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS

Most people who get PCV13 have no problems from it. Others may have mild problems such as soreness and redness where the shot was received.

There is no proof that PCV13 is linked to the development of autism.

A person could still get sick with the S pneumoniae strains that are not included in the PCV13 vaccine.

CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:

  • You are not sure if the person should get PCV13
  • Serious symptoms appear after getting the vaccine
  • You have questions or concerns about the vaccine

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years and Adults Aged 19 Years and Older - United States, 2013. MMWR. 2013;62(Suppl1):1-19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine safety and adverse events. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/safety/default.htm. Accessed April 19, 2013.

DeStefano F, Price CS, Weintraub ES. Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism. J Pediatr. 2013; DOI10.1016/j.peds.2013.02.001.

Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review Committee. Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2004.

Orenstein WA, Atkinson WL. Immunization. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 17.

Updated: 2/21/2013

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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