Pneumonia Vaccines – Now there are 2!


  • About 900,000 Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia each year.
  • 5-7% die from it – most of the deaths occur in people over 65.

The good news  –  there are vaccines

  • The original pneumonia vaccine (PPSV23)  released in 1983,  protects against 23 different strains of the bacteria. But there were still infections and deaths from other pneumococcal bacterial strains.
  • In 2010, the FDA approved another vaccine (PCV13) to cover these nasty actors.

Do I need both vaccines? Yes, you should get both if at risk.

Which vaccine should I get first?  It depends…

  • If this is your first pneumonia vaccine you would get the newer one (PCV 13) first;  then 1 year later you would get the other vaccine (PPSV23)
  • If you already had a prior vaccination with the original one (PPSV23) a  dose of the newer one (PCV13) should be given ≥1 yr after the other.

Do these vaccines protect from all pneumonias?  No, there are other causes of pneumonia but the vaccines protect against the most common ones.

Is it only for the elderly?  No,  PPSV23 is recommended for:

  • All adults 65 years of age and older,
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age with certain long-term health problems,
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age with a weakened immune system,
  • Adults 19 through 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or have asthma.
  • Most people need only one dose of PPSV. A second dose is recommended for certain high-risk groups. See table below…

OK to take anytime during the year?   Yes, you can be vaccinated anytime during the year.

Can I take it at the same time as the flu vaccine?  Yes – the vaccines may be given together.

Does insurance cover these vaccines?  Yes, insurance covers both vaccines .

Table  Medical conditions or other indications for administration of PCV13, and indications for PPSV23 administration and revaccination for adults 19 years of age or older
Risk Group Underlying Medical Condition PCV13 PPSV23*
Recommended Recommended Revaccination at 5 years after first dose
People with health issues Chronic heart disease
Chronic lung disease§
Diabetes mellitus
CSF leaks
Cochlear implants
Chronic liver disease
Cigarette smoking
People without a functioning spleen Sickle cell disease/other hemoglobinopathies
Congenital or acquired asplenia
Other  Congenital or acquired immunodeficiencies
HIV infection
Chronic renal failure
Nephrotic syndrome
Hodgkin disease
Generalized malignancy
Iatrogenic immunosuppression
Solid organ transplant
Multiple myeloma
  • *All adults 65 years of age or older should receive a dose of PPSV23, regardless of previous history of vaccination with pneumococcal vaccine
  • Including congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathies
  • Including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and asthma
  • Includes B- (humoral) or T-lymphocyte deficiency, complement deficiencies (particularly C1, C2, C3, and C4 deficiencies), and phagocytic disorders (excluding chronic granulomatous disease)
  • Diseases requiring treatment with immunosuppressive drugs, including long-term systemic corticosteroids and radiation therapy

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