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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Vaccination can protect older adults (and some children and younger adults) from pneumococcal disease.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that can spread from person to person through close contact. It can cause ear infections, and it can also lead to more serious infections of the:
Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years of age, people with certain medical conditions, adults over 65 years of age, and cigarette smokers are at the highest risk.
About 18,000 older adults die each year from pneumococcal disease in the United States.
Treatment of pneumococcal infections with penicillin and other drugs used to be more effective. But some strains of the disease have become resistant to these drugs. This makes prevention of the disease, through vaccination, even more important.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. It will not prevent all pneumococcal disease.
PPSV23 is recommended for:
Most people need only one dose of PPSV. A second dose is recommended for certain high-risk groups. People 65 and older should get a dose even if they have gotten one or more doses of the vaccine before they turned 65.
Your healthcare provider can give you more information about these recommendations.
Most healthy adults develop protection within 2 to 3 weeks of getting the shot.
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own, but serious reactions are also possible.
About half of people who get PPSV have mild side effects, such as redness or pain where the shot is given, which go away within about two days.
Less than 1 out of 100 people develop a fever, muscle aches, or more severe local reactions.
Problems that could happen after any vaccine:
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/
What should I look for?
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or unusual behavior.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
What should I do?
If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can't wait, call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS web site at www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
VAERS does not give medical advice.
Vaccine Information Statement
Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis.
Hojas de información Sobre Vacunas están disponibles en español y en muchos otros idiomas. Visite http://www.immunize.org/vis.
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
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