Why get vaccinated?
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) can prevent pneumococcal disease.
Pneumococcal disease refers to any illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria. These bacteria can cause many types of illnesses, including pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. Pneumococcal bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia.
Besides pneumonia, pneumococcal bacteria can also cause:
- Ear infections
- Sinus infections
- Meningitis (infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
- Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years of age, people with certain medical conditions, adults 65 years or older, and cigarette smokers are at the highest risk.
Most pneumococcal infections are mild. However, some can result in long-term problems, such as brain damage or hearing loss. Meningitis, bacteremia, and pneumonia caused by pneumococcal disease can be fatal.
PCV13 protects against 13 types of bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease.
Infants and young children usually need 4 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age. In some cases, a child might need fewer than 4 doses to complete PCV13 vaccination.
A dose of PCV13 is also recommended for anyone 2 years or older with certain medical conditions if they did not already receive PCV13.
This vaccine may be given to adults 65 years or older based on discussions between the patient and health care provider.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of PCV13, to an earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine known as PCV7, or to any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid (for example, DTaP), or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
In some cases, your provider may decide to postpone PCV13 vaccination to a future visit.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting PCV13 .
Your provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
- Redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness where the shot is given, and fever, loss of appetite, fussiness (irritability), feeling tired, headache, and chills can happen after PCV13.
Young children may be at increased risk for seizures caused by fever after PCV13 if it is administered at the same time as inactivated influenza vaccine. Ask your provider for more information.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 911 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website (vaers.hhs.gov) or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Visit the VICP website (www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/index.html) or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your provider.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by calling 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or visiting CDC's vaccine website.