Treatment Options

Pneumococcal Vaccine for Prevention of Pneumococcal Pneumonia

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Currently there are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7 and PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.  Neither of the vaccines can cause pneumonia. 

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7 and PCV13) is for infants and toddlers. PCV13 is replacing the PCV7 vaccine.  The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this vaccine for protection against pneumococcal bacteria. This may provide some protection for ear infections caused by that bacterium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine schedule of this vaccine at ages two months, four months, six months and 12 to 15 months. Consult your health care provider if the vaccine is not given at those times.

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) is for older children and adults. It was developed to protect against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Protection against most or all of these types of bacteria is expected two to three weeks after getting one dose of the vaccine. Pregnant women need to consult their health care provider regarding the need for the pneumococcal vaccine. The CDC recommends the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults 65 years of age or older and anyone two years of age or older with any of the following:

  • Alcoholism
  • Kidney failure
  • On certain cancer drugs
  • Cirrhosis
  • Leaks of cerebrospinal fluid
  • On long-term steroids
  • Damaged or no spleen
  • Leukemia
  • On radiation therapy
  • Diabetes
  • Lung disease
  • Organ transplant
  • Heart disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Sickle cell disease
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Nephrotic syndrome (protein in urine)
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Multiple myeloma

Things to Consider

  • Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs.
  • Viruses and bacteria are the main causes of pneumonia. Other causes include fungus, or inhaling food, liquid, gas or dust.
  • A streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcal bacterium is the type of bacterial pneumonia spread most commonly in the community. 
  • This bacteria is capable of multiplying and causing serious damage to healthy lungs, the bloodstream, the brain and other parts of the body. The bacteria can also cause meningitis.
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia kills about 1 out of 20 people who get it.
  • The elderly, children and people with other health problems are at high risk for pneumonia.
  • Talk with your health care provider about your need for, the risks and benefits of, and whether a second injection of the pneumococcal vaccine is required.


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Will I live longer if I get the pneumococcal vaccine?

Yes, if the pneumococcal vaccine prevents you from getting pneumococcal pneumonia and from developing serious complications this may help you live longer.

Will getting the pneumococcal vaccine improve my quality of life?

Yes, if the pneumococcal vaccine prevents you from getting pneumococcal pneumonia, you will be able to continue with your usual activities. There are other types of pneumonia you can get.

Will getting the pneumococcal vaccine make my symptoms better?

If you get pneumonia from a type not covered by the vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine will not improve your symptoms. This vaccine is not intended to treat an active infection.


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How safe is this vaccine for me?

Pneumonia vaccine has caused some minor complications. Major complications are rare.

Minor reported complications:

  • Redness, tenderness, or swelling at the site of the injection
  • Fever over 100.4 degrees F
  • Fussiness, drowsiness or loss of appetite

Major reported complications:

Although rare, the pneumonia vaccine may cause an allergic reaction if you are allergic to latex. You may also have a severe allergic reaction with any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fast heart beat 
  • Hives
  • Hoarseness or wheezing
  • Paleness 
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Weakness


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Alternative prevention measures (behavioral modification) include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleaner especially after you cough or sneeze. The alcohol-based hand cleaner should be rubbed until it is dry.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the used tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Do not share plates, cups or eating utensils.
  • Avoid exposure to people who are sick, coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Stay home if you are sick to help prevent the spread of your illness.

No scientific evidence exists showing that herbal, homeopathic or other folk remedies have any benefit against pneumonia.


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The cost of the pneumonia vaccine varies but is approximately $50 to $70 for children and $25 to $50 for adults.

The cost for the treatment of pneumonia with or without complications varies depending on the severity. The cost of treatment could range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. In addition, loss of income and other financial considerations could affect you and your family.

The cost may or may not be covered by your health benefits plan.


The following are off-site links off-site link :

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2014, July). CDC vaccine price list. Retrieved July 8, 2014 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013, September). Pneumococcal vaccination: Who needs it? Retrieved July 8, 2014 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2010, September). Updated recommendations for prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease among adults using the 23-Valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Retrieved July 8, 2014 from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2009, October). Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. What you need to know. Retrieved July 8, 2014 from

Next Review Date


This document has been classified as public information.

Table of Findings

results:  significant value

safety:  significant value

comparison:  significant value

cost: significant value

total: significant value



Page modified:November 12, 2012