Pneumococcal Vaccination (Pneumonia Vaccine)

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Take the Pneumonia Quiz

Pneumonia Symptoms & Signs

Symptoms and signs of pneumonia may be mild or severe and depend upon someone's overall state of health as well as the type of organism causing the pneumonia. Severe symptoms include

  • cough,
  • chest pain when breathing or coughing,
  • labored breathing or shortness of breath,
  • coughing up phlegm,
  • fever,
  • chills.

What is pneumococcal vaccination?

Pneumococcal vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) that is caused by the pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) bacterium. There are more than 80 different types of pneumococcus bacteria -- 23 of them covered by the vaccine. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcus bacteria.

This method of stimulating the normal immune system to be directed against a specific microbe is called immunization. Pneumococcal vaccination is also referred to as pneumococcal immunization.

Pneumococcal vaccination does not protect against pneumonia caused by microbes other than pneumococcus bacteria, nor does it protect against pneumococcal bacterial strains not included in the vaccine. It is reassuring to note that of the 80 different serotypes, the vast majority of infections are caused by the 23 serotypes contained in the vaccine.

In children, especially under 2 years of age, a special conjugated vaccine has been developed to stimulate less developed immune systems. Originally only covering seven serotypes, the newer vaccine released in 2010 now covers 13 serotypes of pneumococcus (Prevnar 13).

Who should consider pneumococcal vaccination?

Pneumococcal vaccination should be considered by people in the following groups:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/26/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Pneumococcal Vaccination - How Often?

    Why did you decide to get the pneumococcal vaccination (pneumonia vaccine)?

    Post View 100 Comments
  • Pneumococcal Vaccination (Pneumonia Vaccine) - Side Effects

    Did you experience any side effects from the pneumonia vaccine?

    Post View 27 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors