There are actually three different pneumonia vaccines: the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax®), the old pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar®), and the "new-and-improved" pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar 13®). The old Prevnar vaccine is no longer being made, though.
These products come in the form of an injection (shot) and help to prevent pneumonia, bacterial meningitis, and other pneumococcal diseases. They are available in brand-name form only.
Pneumovax is injected either into a muscle (intramuscularly) or just under the skin (subcutaneously), usually in the upper arm. Prevnar 13 is given intramuscularly in the thigh or upper arm.
If you have a minor illness, such as the common cold, you can still get vaccinated. However, if you are moderately to severely ill, it's best to postpone your shot of the pneumonia vaccine.
(Click Pneumonia Vaccine to learn more about getting a "pneumonia shot." This article describes the dosing guidelines for this product, as well as what to discuss with your healthcare provider, the forms available, and how it works.)