The pneumonia vaccine is given to children or adults at high risk for pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease is caused by certain bacteria that live in the nose, sinuses, ears, and throat. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but most healthy people do not get severely ill or die from it.
The pneumonia vaccine protects against discomforts and serious, sometimes fatal, complications that can occur when the bacteria spread in the body, such as:
The U.S. government recommends the vaccine for:
A pregnant woman should discuss the risks and benefits of the vaccine with her healthcare provider.
A shot is given into the muscle of the upper thigh or arm. Usually one shot is enough. Occasionally a second shot is recommended at a 6-year interval for people with certain chronic conditions:
There may be tenderness at the site of the shot. A bandage is usually applied to stop any bleeding.
This vaccine is very safe. Severe allergic reactions are very rare. It is important to seek emergency medical care immediately if a person:
Pneumococcal disease is far more likely than the vaccine to cause serious problems for people who are at high risk for it.
Author:Francesca Coltrera, BA
Editor:Keefe, Sandy, RN, MSN
Reviewer:Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Immunization Program. "How do vaccines work?" Last updated 3/28/00.
Centers for Disease Control, National Vaccine Program Office. "The effectiveness of immunizations." Last updated 3/8/2000.
Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). "Prevention of Pneumococcal Disease." MMWR, April 4, 1997; vol. 46, no. RR-8.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Immunization Program. Vaccine information statement "Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine," 7/29/97.