Pneumococcal Disease

The disease

  • Pneumococcal infection is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
  • Pneumococcal infection is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or having close face-to-face contact. It can also be spread through saliva.
  • The bacteria can cause serious and life-threatening infections, such as meningitis, an infection of the lining that covers the brain, septicemia, an infection of the blood, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.
  • Permanent complications of the infection include brain damage and deafness.
  • About 1 in 4 people who get pneumococcal meningitis may die.

The vaccines

There are two types of vaccines that protect against either 13 or 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.

Pneumococcal Conjugate (PV13) Vaccine

  • The PCV 13 vaccine protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
  • This vaccine is given to children as a series of three doses. The first dose is given at 2 months of age, the 2nd at 4 months, and the 3rd at 12 months. An extra dose is given at 6 months to children at high risk for pneumococcal disease.
  • The PCV13 vaccine is also recommended for some people 5 years of age and older with certain medical conditions that put them at high risk of pneumococcal disease.

Click here for a complete list of vaccine recommendations and eligibility criteria.

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

  • The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. 
  • This vaccine is provided free to people at high risk of getting sick from pneumococcal infections, including seniors 65 years of age and older and residents of any age living in residential care or assisted living facilities.
  • This vaccine is also provided free to people 2 years of age and older who have certain medical conditions or lifestyle factors that put them at high risk for pneumococcal disease.

Click here for a complete list of vaccine recommendations and eligibility criteria.