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Pneumococcal Vaccine

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Are Both Pneumococcal Vaccines Safe?

Both vaccines are safe. As with any medicine there is always the possibility of a serious problem, such as an allergic reaction. But with PCV (the vaccine recommended for young children) and PPSV (the vaccine for adults and older children), the risk of serious harm or death is extremely small.

In studies involving nearly 60,000 doses of the PCV vaccine, there have been no moderate or severe reactions. The mild side effects included:

  • Redness, tenderness, or swelling where the shot is given in about one out of every four infants
  • Fever higher than 100.4 F in about one out of every three infants
  • Fever higher than 102.2 F in about one out of every 50 children
  • Occasional incidence of fussiness, drowsiness, or loss of appetite

About one out of every two adults who receive the PPSV vaccine experiences redness or pain where the shot is given. Less than 1% have a more severe reaction, such as a fever or muscle aches.

Who Should Get the Pneumococcal Vaccine and When Should It Be Given?

The PCV7 vaccine that covered seven strains of pneumococcal bacteria, has now been updated to the PCV13 vaccine, which covers 13 strains. A PCV series begun with PCV7 should be completed with PCV13. A single additional dose of PCV13 is recommended for all children 14–59 months who have received an age-appropriate series of PCV7 and for all children 60–71 months with underlying specific medical conditions who have received an age-appropriate series of PCV7.

The PCV vaccine is recommended for the following children:

  • All infants younger than 24 months should receive four doses of the vaccine, the first one at 2 months. The next two shots should be given at 4 months and 6 months, with a final booster that should be given at 12 to 15 months. Children who do not get their shot at these times should still get the vaccine. The number of doses and time between doses will depend on the child's age.
  • Healthy children ages 2 through 4 years who did not complete the four doses should receive one dose of the vaccine.
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