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Pneumococcal Vaccination for Adults

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Who Needs a Booster Shot of the Pneumococcal Vaccine?

Some people may need a booster shot after 5 years. The doctor will recommend a second dose of PPSV23 if you are an adult between ages 19 and 64 who has:

  • A damaged spleen or no spleen
  • Kidney disease called nephritic syndrome
  • A weakened immune system due to medications such as chemotherapy drugs and long-term steroids
  • Cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma
  • History of an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Sickle cell disease

Adults over age 65 who received PPSV23 before age 65 also need a booster shot if it has been more than 5 years since being vaccinated.

Who Should Not Get the Pneumococcal Vaccine?

You should NOT get the PPSV23 or the PCV13 vaccine if you have had:

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction to either vaccine
  • A severe allergy to any of the vaccines' ingredients 

If you are moderately to severely ill, your doctor may recommend waiting to get the shot until after you recover. The CDC says you can still get the vaccines if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or low-grade fever.

It is not known whether the PPSV23 and PCV13 vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. But there have been no reports of harm to babies whose mothers received the vaccine before realizing they were pregnant. Pregnant women should only receive these vaccinations if they are clearly needed.

What Are the Side Effects and Risks of the Pneumococcal Vaccine?

Like all vaccines, both PPSV23 and PCV13 can have side effects. But the risk of harm or death from either is extremely rare.

Reported side effects are similar for both vaccines. Some people may have mild swelling, redness, and soreness where the shot was given. This goes away in a few days.

Less than 1% of people who receive these vaccines may have:

  • Fever
  • More severe swelling, pain, or redness where the shot was given
  • Muscle aches

Rarely, someone may have a severe allergic reaction to an ingredient in the vaccines. Most of the time, such reactions occur within a few minutes of receiving a pneumococcal vaccine. The following can be signs of a severe allergic reaction:

  • Behavior changes
  • Breathing difficulty, including wheezing
  • Dizziness
  • Hoarse voice
  • High fever
  • Hives
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Weakness

Seek immediate medical care if you notice any of these signs after receiving either pneumococcal vaccine. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 21, 2013
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