Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Lung Infection Bacterial Prevention

A pneumonia vaccine helps prevent the most common form of bacterial pneumonia:

  • Pneumovax

The Pneumovax vaccine is recommended for those with:

Prevention of bacterial pneumonia also includes:

Lung Infection Bacterial Vaccine

What is pneumovax?
This is a vaccine that protects against common bacteria called pneumococcus. These are the same bacteria that cause pneumonia, ear infections, and meningitis. Pneumovax is normally given once every six years.

Who needs pneumovax?

  • AIDS patients
  • Alcoholics
  • Anyone with a condition that affects the immune system
  • Cancer patients
  • Diabetics taking insulin
  • Individuals who are missing their spleen
  • Kidney dialysis patients
  • Those over 65 with chronic illness or living in a nursing home

What are the side effects of pneumovax?
Less than 1 out of 100 people who receive the Pneumovax develop skin reactions such as warmth, redness, and swelling. This usually lasts for no more than 48 hours.

What is Prevnar?
Pneumococcal vaccine is available for use in children to prevent pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and otitis media. The new pneumococcal vaccine is marketed under the name Prevnar 13. Prevnar 13 protects against 13 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. The older version of Prevnar only protected against 7 strains.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends Prevnar 13 for children 2 months to 5 years of age (prior to sixth birthday). Children, who have started their vaccination schedule using the original Prevnar vaccine, may conclude it with the newer Prevnar 13. In addition, children from 15 months to 5 years who have received all 4 doses of the original Prevnar can get the additional coverage of Prevnar 13 with one additional dose.

Health experts believe that becoming infected with pneumococcal disease (such as pneumonia or meningitis) is more dangerous to your child's health than receiving the vaccine. Like any vaccine, Prevnar 13 may not provide protection from disease in every person. Be sure to ask your child's doctor about the benefits and risks of Prevnar 13.

Four doses of the Prevnar 13 vaccine are given for complete immunization against pneumococcal infection.

Doses are usually given at:
  • 2 months
    • First dose no sooner than 6 weeks
    • Should have 2 months between each injection
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12-15 months

If your child is already 6 months or older, he or she can receive Prevnar 13 on the following schedule:
  • 7-11 months:
    • Two injections at least 4 weeks apart
    • A third injection after the child turns 1 year; at least 2 months after the second injection
  • Age 12-23 months
    • Two injections at least 2 months apart
  • Age 2-9 years:
    • One injection

Side Effects
Mild problems:

More serious problems:

Continue to Lung Infection Bacterial Outlook

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Lung Infection Bacterial References
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  2. Musher DM, Alexandraki I, Graviss EA: Bacteremic and nonbacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia. A prospective study. Medicine (Baltimore) 2000 Jul; 79(4): 210-21. [10941350]
  3. Read RC: Evidence-based medicine: empiric antibiotic therapy in community-acquired pneumonia. J Infect 1999 Nov; 39(3): 171-8. [10714789]
  4. Ruiz-Gonzalez A, Falguera M, Vives M: Community-acquired pneumonia: development of a bedside predictive model and scoring system to identify the aetiology. Respir Med 2000 May; 94(5): 505-10. [10868716]
  5. Shorr AF. Preventing pneumonia: the role for pneumococcal and influenza vaccines. Clin Chest Med. 2005 Mar;26(1):123-34. [15802174]
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