Pneumococcal disease can range from mild to very serious. About 2,000 cases of serious disease (blood infection, pneumonia with blood infection, and meningitis) occur each year in US children under age 5 years. These cases can cause death or lifelong disability, including deafness, brain damage, and limb amputation.
The best way to protect against pneumococcal disease is through vaccination.
There are currently two types of pneumococcal vaccines recommended for children in the US: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Both vaccines are safe and effective, and side effects may occur. Most side effects are mild such as arm swelling or soreness, and last one or two days.
Who Should Be Vaccinated and Which Pneumococcal Vaccines Do They Need?
- All children under age 2 years should receive 4 doses of PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
- Healthy children, age 2-4 years who are unvaccinated or who did not complete the recommended series should also receive PCV13
- Parents of children age 2 through 18 years with certain medical conditions should speak to a healthcare professional to determine which pneumococcal vaccines their child needs:
- Lung, heart, liver, or kidney disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, or damaged/absent spleen
- Cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
Pneumococcal vaccine can be given at the same time as influenza (flu) vaccine. This is important because having flu increases the risk of getting pneumococcal disease. CDC has additional guidance about other vaccines that can be given at the same time as pneumococcal vaccines.
Read more about pneumococcal disease and adolescents.
Updated March 2022
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What you should know about pneumococcal disease