Pneumococcal disease is caused by various strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The main pneumococcal diseases are pneumonia, bacteremia (blood infection), and meningitis (brain infection). Pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common clinical presentation of pneumococcal disease among adults. About 175,000 people are hospitalized in the United States each year because of pneumococcal pneumonia. About 5% to 7% of people with pneumococcal pneumonia will die. In addition, there are more than 50,000 cases per year of pneumococcal bacteremia and up to 6,000 cases of pneumococcal meningitis. The death rates for these two forms of pneumococcal disease can increase to up to 80% in elderly patients.
Pneumococcal bacteria are spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. A person can also be a carrier of pneumococcal bacteria. This means the pneumococcal bacteria can live in the person's respiratory tract without causing symptoms. However, persons who are carriers can also infect themselves and other people.
People who are very young, very old, or who have weak immune systems are at greatest risk for pneumococcal disease and complications from pneumococcal disease. Therefore, these are the groups that are targeted for pneumococcal vaccine administration.
There are two pneumococcal vaccines. Both are inactivated vaccines and can help prevent pneumococcal disease.
Product: Prevnar 13® (Pneumoococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
Year licensed: 2010
Product: Pneumovax 23® (Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine)
Year licensed: 1983
* Includes children with sickle cell
disease, anatomic or functional asplenia, chronic cardiac, pulmonary, or
renal disease, diabetes mellitus, CSF leak, immunosuppression, HIV
infection, cochlear implants, or bone marrow transplant.
** ACIP recommends Prevnar 13 (PCV13) for
adults 19 and older with immunocompromising conditions, functional or
anatomic asplenia, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, or cochlear impants.
* Pnuemococcal polysaccharide vaccine contains phenol.
* Includes children with sickle cell disease, anatomic or functional
asplenia, chronic cardiac, pulmonary, or renal disease, diabetes
mellitus, CSF leak, immunosuppression, HIV infection, cochlear implants,
or bone marrow transplant.