Pneumococcal vaccination prevents a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) caused by Pneumococcus bacterium. The normal immune system of the body is stimulated with a vaccine to produce antibodies that are directed against Pneumococcus bacteria.
Since 2000 pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for:
- children at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months
- adult 65 years of age and older
- people with chronic heart or lung disorders including congestive heart failure
- diabetes mellitus
- chronic liver disease
- spinal fluid leaks
- chronic bronchitis or emphysema (COPD) or emphysema
- spleen dysfunction (such as sickle cell disease) or lack of spleen function (asplenia)
- blood malignancy (leukemia)
- multiple myelomas
- kidney failure
- organ transplantation or immune suppressive conditions, including HIV infection
Alaskan natives and certain American Indian populations and if elective surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) or immunosuppressive therapy is planned, the vaccine is given two weeks prior to the procedure, if possible.
A pregnant woman should consult with their doctor about vaccination because so far there are no studies about the safety of the pneumococcus vaccine for mother or the fetus.
People with prior history of hypersensitivity reactions to the vaccine should not receive the pneumococcal vaccine.
In most people, the pneumococcal vaccine is administrated in one dose into the muscle or under the skin. Transplant patients, patients with lack of spleen function, patients with chronic kidney disease, immunosuppressed or immunodeficient persons should receive a second dose at least five years after the first dose.
Other vaccinations like tetanus vaccines or inactivated influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as or at any time before or after a dose of pneumococcus vaccine.
The side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine are soreness and/or redness at the site of the injection, fever, rash, and allergic reactions but they are rare.