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.

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Who should not receive pneumococcal vaccine? What about pregnancy?

The pneumococcal vaccine should not be received by people with a prior history of hypersensitivity reactions to the vaccine.

The safety of the pneumococcus vaccine for pregnant women has not yet been studied. There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to either the mother or the fetus, but pregnant women should consult with their doctor before being vaccinated. Women who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated before becoming pregnant, if possible.

How is pneumococcal vaccine administered?

The pneumococcal vaccine is given as a single injection in adults. The vaccine is injected as a liquid solution of 0.5 mL into the muscle (intramuscular or IM), typically deltoid muscle, or under the skin (subcutaneous or SC). The area injected is typically disinfected by rubbing alcohol onto the skin prior to the injection. The conjugated Prevnar 13 vaccine is given as a series of four injections in children.

People vaccinated prior to age 65 should be vaccinated at age 65 if five or more years have passed since the first dose. For people with a lack of spleen function (such as in sickle cell disease or after spleen removal), transplant patients, patients with chronic kidney disease, immunosuppressed or immunodeficient people, and others at highest risk of fatal infection, a second dose should be given at least five years after first dose.

What are side effects of pneumococcal vaccine?

Pneumococcal vaccine uncommonly causes side effects. Reported side effects include soreness and/or redness at the site of the injection, fever, rash, and allergic reactions.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/26/2015

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