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Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

Definition

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helps protect against mild and severe infections due to the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. This bacteria frequently causes ear infections, meningitis, and pneumonia in children.

See also: Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

Information

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is a killed (or inactivated) vaccine. This means it uses a protein or other small pieces taken from the bacteria to teach the immune system to recognize and fight active bacteria.

This vaccine effectively prevents childhood illnesses caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, such as meningitis and pneumonia.

WHO SHOULD GET THIS VACCINE

Children should receive four doses of the vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 - 15 months

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is not the same as the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, which is used in children over age 2 and in adults. For information on that vaccine, see: Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS

Most people have no or only minor side effects from the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Pain and redness at the injection site can occur. As is the case with any drug or vaccine, there is a small risk of an allergic reaction, more serious reactions, or even death.

Watch for and be familiar with how to treat minor side effects such as low-grade fever or tenderness at the injection site.

There is NO evidence linking the pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) vaccine with the development of autism.

See also:

CONSIDERATIONS

If your child has a fever or an illness that is more serious than a cold, the vaccine may be withheld or delayed.

CALL YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IF:

  • Moderate or serious side effects appear after this vaccine has been given, or you have any questions or concerns
  • You are not sure whether a certain person should delay, avoid, or get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended adult immunization schedule—United States, 2012. MMWR 2012;61(4).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years -- United States, 2012, MMWR 2012;61(05);1-4.


Review Date: 3/25/2012
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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