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Pneumonia Vaccine: New Recommendations

Pneumonia is a term that is defined as inflammation of the lungs that is caused by an infection from a germ; either a virus or bacteria or in some cases a fungus. There are many types of germs that can cause pneumonia. The condition can involve certain parts of the lung or both lungs. Severity ranges from mild to moderate to grave life threatening disease.

How Long Has the Pneumonia Vaccine Been Around?

The first vaccine for bacterial pneumonia was licensed for use in the United States in 1977. This initial vaccine contained protection from 14 different types of bacteria that cause pneumonia. In 1983 the vaccine was improved to cover 23 different types of bacteria. This improved vaccine replaced the original and is still in use today. In the time following this, there have been several developments in vaccines for pneumococcal disease with the most recent improvements having been approved in 2021.

Due to the many developments the recommendations for who should receive vaccine and when have changed over time. It is important to understand the latest guidance for appropriate vaccination for pneumonia. Pneumonia vaccine has been shown to be 60% to 70% effective in preventing severe disease caused by the bacteria represented in the vaccine.

Who is at Risk for Pneumonia?

Although anyone can get sick from pneumonia, older adults, infants and young children and individuals with certain chronic health conditions are most at risk. Meaning, these groups are not only more likely to get pneumonia but are also more susceptible to moderate to severe cases.

What are the Current Pneumonia Vaccines?

Pneumonia vaccines are designated with a number which corresponds to the amount of specific bacteria that are represented in the product. There are currently four different pneumonia vaccine products available:

  1. PCV13 – Prevnar 13
  2. PCV15 – Vaxneuvance
  3. PCV20 – Prevnar 20
  4. PPSV23 - Pneumovax 23

Who Should Receive the Pneumonia Vaccine?

ALL infants should receive the PCV13 vaccine which is a four dose series at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and between 12 and 15 months.

Any adult ages 19 to 64 who are at risk due to certain chronic health conditions should receive a single dose of PCV15. Followed by a single dose of PPSV23 at least one year later OR a single dose of PCV20.

ALL adults ages 65 and older who have not been previously vaccinated for pneumonia or whose pneumonia vaccination status in unknown should receive a single dose of PCV15. Followed by a single dose of PPSV23 at least one year later OR a single dose of PCV20.

Who Should NOT Get the Pneumonia Vaccine?

People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait to receive pneumonia vaccine. Be sure to inform your provider if you have had an allergic reaction to any type of pneumonia vaccine or vaccines containing diphtheria OR any severe allergies.

Adult immunizations are available at CHI Health Pharmacy and CHI Health Clinics. Be sure to check with your pharmacist, physician or health care provider about which immunizations are recommended for you. Contact a CHI Health Pharmacy with any questions.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Page last reviewed: January 24, 2022, Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases; Pneumococcal Vaccination | CDC

Bob Grenier, Pharm.D.
Bob Grenier, Pharm.D.

Bob Grenier, PharmD, is a Retail Pharmacy Manager at CHI Health.

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