Pneumonia Vaccine Uses
Pneumovax UsesPneumovax (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) is approved to provide protection against pneumococcal disease in people age two and older. Types of pneumococcal disease include:
- Bloodstream infections
- Bacterial meningitis (a bacterial infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord).
As mentioned, Pneumovax is approved for individuals age 2 and older. However, routine use of this vaccine is recommended only for individuals over the age of 65. For younger people, this vaccination is recommended only for people in high-risk categories, such as:
- Adults with asthma
- Adults who smoke
- Individuals age 2 through 64 who have weakened immune systems due to various diseases or certain medications
- Individuals age 2 through 64 who have long-term health problems, such as:
How Does the Pneumonia Vaccine Work?These vaccines contain polysaccharide (sugar) molecules from the outside coating of the S. pneumoniae bacteria. Simply stated, these vaccines "trick" the body into thinking it has been exposed to the actual bacteria, but without the risks of a real infection. If future exposure to the bacteria occurs, the immune system "remembers" the bacteria and is better able to fight it off.
Pneumovax contains antigens from 23 different types of S. pneumoniae, the old Prevnar contained antigens from only 7 types, and Prevnar 13 contains antigens from 13 types. Also, the polysaccharides in Prevnar and Prevnar 13 are bound, or "conjugated," to a nontoxic diphtheria protein; this change produces a much better immune response in young children.