Stuff You Must Know About the Pneumococcal Vaccine

What is it?
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine that help to protect against bacteria that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections. These types of infections can be serious, especially in older adults.

The two vaccine types are the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Who should get the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine?
all adults age 65 and older
adults and children over 2 years old who have a long-term health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease
adults and children over 2 years old who have a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as kidney failure, HIV, or leukemia
adults and children over 2 years old who are taking any drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as cancer drugs or radiation therapy
Alaskan Natives and certain Native American populations
A second dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for people who:

are age 65 or older and received their first shot more than 5 years ago
have a damaged spleen, HIV, kidney failure, cancer, etc.
In some cases your doctor may recommend a dose of another pneumococcal vaccine, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Please check with your doctor to find out if you require this additional vaccine.

Who should get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine?
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all children younger than 5 years old, all adults 65 years or older and for people who have certain medical conditions.

This vaccine is given to most children at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months as part of the recommended childhood immunization series. It protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, pneumococcal meningitis and bacteremia, and ear infections.

How can I get the pneumococcal vaccine?
You can get the pneumococcal vaccine from your personal physician throughout the year.

If you come in for your annual flu shot during flu season, ask to get the pneumococcal vaccine at the same time.