Disease: Pneumococcal Vaccination
(Pneumonia Vaccination)

What is pneumococcal vaccination?

Pneumococcal vaccination is a method of preventing a specific type of lung infection (pneumonia) that is caused by pneumococcus bacterium. There are more than 80 different types of pneumococcus bacteria -- 23 of them covered by the vaccine. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcus bacteria.

This method of stimulating the normal immune system to be directed against a specific microbe is called immunization. Pneumococcal vaccination is also referred to as pneumococcal immunization.

Pneumococcal vaccination does not protect against pneumonia caused by microbes other than pneumococcus bacteria, nor does it protect against pneumococcal bacteria strains not included in the vaccine. It is reassuring to note that of the 80 different serotypes, the vast majority of infections are caused by the 23 serotypes contained in the vaccine.

In children, especially under the age of 2, a special conjugated vaccine has been developed to stimulate less developed immune systems. Originally only covering seven serotypes, the newer vaccine released in 2010, now covers 13 serotypes of pneumococcus (Prevnar 13).

Who should consider pneumococcal vaccination?

Pneumococcal vaccination should be considered by people in the following groups:

  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • People > 2 years of age with chronic heart or lung disorders, including congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease, alcoholism, spinal fluid leaks, cardiomyopathy, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema
  • People > 2 years of age with spleen dysfunction (such as sickle cell disease) or lack of spleen function (asplenia), blood malignancy (leukemias), multiple myeloma, kidney failure, organ transplantation, or immunosuppressive conditions, including HIV infection
  • Alaskan natives and certain American Indian populations
  • If elective surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) or immunosuppressive therapy is planned, the vaccine is given two weeks prior to the procedure, if possible.

Who should not receive pneumococcal vaccine? What about pregnancy?

The pneumococcal vaccine should not be received by people with a prior history of hypersensitivity reactions to the vaccine.

The safety of the pneumococcus vaccine for pregnant women has not yet been studied. There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to either the mother or the fetus, but pregnant women should consult with their doctor before being vaccinated. Women who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated before becoming pregnant, if possible.

How is pneumococcal vaccine administered?

The pneumococcal vaccine is given as a single injection in adults. The vaccine is injected as a liquid solution of 0.5 mL into the muscle (intramuscular or IM), typically deltoid muscle, or under the skin (subcutaneous or SC). The area injected is typically disinfected by rubbing alcohol onto the skin prior to the injection. The conjugated Prevnar 13 vaccine is given as a series of four injections in children.

People vaccinated prior to age 65 should be vaccinated at age 65 if five or more years have passed since the first dose. For people with a lack of spleen function (such as in sickle cell disease or after spleen removal), transplant patients, patients with chronic kidney disease, immunosuppressed or immunodeficient people, and others at highest risk of fatal infection, a second dose should be given at least five years after first dose.

What are side effects of pneumococcal vaccine?

Pneumococcal vaccine uncommonly causes side effects. Reported side effects include soreness and/or redness at the site of the injection, fever, rash, and allergic reactions.

Who should not receive pneumococcal vaccine? What about pregnancy?

The pneumococcal vaccine should not be received by people with a prior history of hypersensitivity reactions to the vaccine.

The safety of the pneumococcus vaccine for pregnant women has not yet been studied. There is no evidence that the vaccine is harmful to either the mother or the fetus, but pregnant women should consult with their doctor before being vaccinated. Women who are at high risk of pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated before becoming pregnant, if possible.

How is pneumococcal vaccine administered?

The pneumococcal vaccine is given as a single injection in adults. The vaccine is injected as a liquid solution of 0.5 mL into the muscle (intramuscular or IM), typically deltoid muscle, or under the skin (subcutaneous or SC). The area injected is typically disinfected by rubbing alcohol onto the skin prior to the injection. The conjugated Prevnar 13 vaccine is given as a series of four injections in children.

People vaccinated prior to age 65 should be vaccinated at age 65 if five or more years have passed since the first dose. For people with a lack of spleen function (such as in sickle cell disease or after spleen removal), transplant patients, patients with chronic kidney disease, immunosuppressed or immunodeficient people, and others at highest risk of fatal infection, a second dose should be given at least five years after first dose.

What are side effects of pneumococcal vaccine?

Pneumococcal vaccine uncommonly causes side effects. Reported side effects include soreness and/or redness at the site of the injection, fever, rash, and allergic reactions.

Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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