Pneumonia Vaccine Uses
Pneumonia and bacterial meningitis are two of the conditions that can be prevented with a pneumonia vaccine. Another approved use of pneumonia vaccines is the prevention of ear infections. Although these vaccines can be used in children and adults, Pneumovax is not recommended for routine use in people under the age of 65.
What Is the Pneumonia Vaccine Used For?Pneumonia vaccines (Pneumovax®, Prevnar 13®) are used to prevent pneumococcal diseases. Although initially Pneumovax was the vaccine for older adults and Prevnar was the vaccine for children, both vaccines have expanded their approved age categories and now overlap somewhat. People who fall into the recommended categories for both vaccines can (and often should) receive both Pneumovax and Prevnar 13.
Prevnar 13 UsesPrevnar 13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) is a routine childhood vaccination used to prevent pneumococcal disease, including serious pneumococcal diseases as well as ear infections. Prevnar 13 is the "new-and-improved" version of Prevnar. Ideally, it is used in infants and toddlers, although it can also be given to older children who did not receive the vaccine earlier.
Most importantly, Prevnar and Prevnar 13 help to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), a group of serious infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. IPD diseases include:
- Bacterial meningitis (S. pneumoniae is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States)
- Bacteremia (a bloodstream infection)
Prevnar 13 is also approved to prevent ear infections caused by S. pneumoniae. However, the main reason to use this vaccination is to prevent IPD, as Prevnar 13 is not very effective for preventing ear infections. There are many different causes of ear infections, including viruses or bacteria other than S. pneumoniae, and the vaccine's ability to protect against ear infections appears to be rather low.
In 2012, Prevnar 13 was also approved to prevent pneumonia and other serious pneumococcal diseases in older adults (age 50 and over).