Pneumococcus Vaccination Information

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Pneumococcus Vaccination Information

Written by James M. Weiss, MD

The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia is an organism called Pneumococcus.  There has been a vaccine against 23 strains of this bacterium in use for many years, called PPSV23 (23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide; brand name Pneumovax 23 and Pnu-Immune).  This year a newer vaccine, called PCV13 (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; brand name Prevnar), became indicated for use in adults age 65 and older.  It protects against 13 strains of Pneumococcus.  Unfortunately there is not complete overlap between the strains covered by PPSV23 & PCV13.  As a result many people will need both.  Below are the current recommendations for people 19 years and older as it relates to these two vaccines.

For all adults age 65 or older:

  • Those who have never had any pneumonia vaccines:
    • Should receive PCV13 and then wait 6 – 12 months and then
    • Should receive PPSV23
  • Those who have received PPSV23 at age 65 or older:
    • Should wait at least one year and then should receive PCV13
  • Those who received PPSV23 before turning 65:
    • Should wait at least one year from when they received the PPSV23 and then,
    • Should receive the PCV13 and then,
    • Should wait at least 6 – 12 months and then they should receive the PPSV23.

Once the above protocol has been completed there is no need to receive either the PPSV23 or PCV13 for the rest of you life.  The exception to this rule is if you have had your spleen removed some experts recommend revaccination with PPSV23 every 6 – 7 years.

Healthy adults age 19 – 64 do not need either of these vaccines.  However those in this age group who are cigarette smokers or have diabetes, chronic heart, lung or liver disease or those who are alcoholic should receive the PPSV23 alone.  Someone in this age group who has had their spleen removed or have a serious illness, such as HIV, cancer or advanced kidney disease should consult their physician for specific recommendations.

At PPMA we are very concerned about your health and wellbeing.  We encourage you to contact the office to help us determine which vaccine may be right for you.  If you have your vaccine records from another provider it would be of great help if you could provide that information to us so the best possible decision can be made. Call our office today at949.566.8179.

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