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Pneumococcal Immunization for Adults

Do you need the pneumococcal vaccine?

nurse giving patient a shot in the arm

Pneumococcal bacteria can cause pneumonia (an infection of the lungs). It can also cause sepsis (a blood infection), as well as meningitis (an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord). A pneumococcal shot provides protection against the bacterium.

Who should get a pneumococcal vaccination?

Depending on your health status, one or two vaccines may be used either alone, or in combination, or as a revaccination. However, the two vaccines are never given at the same time.

  • PCV13 protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria
  • PPSV23 protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria

PCV13 is recommended for all adults ages 65 and older. And one dose of PCV13 is also recommended for adults ages 19 years and older who have conditions that weaken the immune system. These may include HIV infection, organ transplantation, leukemia, lymphoma and severe kidney disease.

PPSV23 is recommended for adults ages 65 and older. Additionally, it is recommended for any adult who:

  • Has a chronic illness such as lung disease (including asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); heart disease, liver disease, alcoholism and diabetes
  • Smokes cigarettes
  • Lives in a home for the chronically ill or a nursing home
  • Has a weakened immune system
  • Is leaking cerebral spinal fluid
  • Has or is planning to have a cochlear implant
  • Doesn't have a spleen or has one that isn’t functioning properly

Work with your doctor

Vaccine schedules can change based on developments in vaccine research or disease outbreaks. Your doctor can help keep your immunizations up to date and keep copies of your immunization records, too.

By Ginny Greene, Contributing Editor

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Immunization Schedules for Adults in Easy-to-read Formats. Accessed: September 6, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pneumococcal vaccination: What everyone should know. Accessed: September 6, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines and immunizations. Accessed: September 6, 2016.

Last Updated: September 7, 2016