Vaccine Information You Need
Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Pneumococcal Disease
Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Pneumococcal Disease

People sometimes call pneumococcal disease "pneumonia." Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria, which can lead to serious infection in the lungs, blood, and brain.
You can catch the pneumococcal bacteria from people who cough or sneeze around you.
Even if you get good medical care, pneumonia can be deadly. The disease is hard to treat because the bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. Pneumococcal disease kills about 3,000 people each year in the United States.
Anyone can get pneumococcal disease. You are at greater risk if you are 65 or older, very young, have heart or lung disease, or your immune system is weakened.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent pneumococcal infection.
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine – pneumococcal conjugate (PCV, known as Prevnar) and pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV, known as Pneumovax).
Some people need only one type of pneumococcal vaccine. But some people need both types.
Children should receive 4 doses of Prevnar. The first dose should be given at 2 months, the second dose at 4 months, the third dose at 6 months, and the fourth dose at 12-15 months. Older children (through 4 years of age) who were not vaccinated as infants need 1 or 2 doses of Prevnar. Prevnar is not recommended for healthy children 5 years of age and older. Some children age 2 years and older with certain health conditions (such as heart or lung disease or treatment with certain medications) may also need one or more doses of Pneumovax.
Neither type of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for healthy adults age 19 through 64 years who do not smoke cigarettes. Adults age 65 years and older should receive both Prevnar and Pneumovax but not at the same time. You should receive a dose of Prevnar first (if possible), followed by a dose of Pneumovax 1 year later. If you've already received any doses of Pneumovax, the dose of Prevnar should be given at least 1 year after receipt of the most recent Pneumovax dose. You should get a dose of Prevnar even if you received a dose of Pneumovax more than a year ago. If you've already received a dose of Prevnar before age 65 years, another dose of Prevnar is not recommended. You might need either Pneumovax or Prevnar or both before age 65 years if you are a smoker or if you have a long-term health condition such as diabetes, asthma or heart, lung, or kidney disease. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you need one or both of these vaccines.
Trusted Websites
Find fact sheets, resources, multimedia, and more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Information about Pneumococcal Disease
Information about Pneumococcal Disease
Includes information about the disease, immunization, recommendations, and resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics
A Look at Each Vaccine: Pneumococcal
A Look at Each Vaccine: Pneumococcal Vaccine
Questions and answers about the disease and vaccines from the Vaccine Education Center
Kids Health
About the infection, including signs and symptoms, contagiousness, prevention, incubation, duration and treatment
World Pneumonia Day
World Pneumonia Day
Pneumonia is one of the most solvable problems in global health and yet a child dies from the infection every 20 seconds. Join the effort!
View all diseases and vaccines
Video Library
Video: One Family's Struggle with Pneumococcal Disease
One Family's Struggle with Pneumococcal Disease: One mother shares the heart-wrenching account of her family's struggles with pneumococcal disease affecting both of her young children. Abigail, her almost two-year-old daughter, died of overwhelming sepsis due to pneumococcal disease. Vaccination can prevent pneumococcal disease, which causes tens of thousands of hospitalizations and many deaths each year in the United States.
>> view all pneumococcal videos
Personal Testimonies
Stories of suffering and loss from pneumococcal
Three-Year-Old's Ordeal with Severe Pneumococcal Disease Includes Bloodstream and Lung Infection
Boy Dies of Pneumococcal Meningitis
Pneumococcal Pneumonia: How I let down my friend
>> view all personal testimonies
More Pneumococcal Information
Pneumococcal: Make sure your child is protected
Pneumococcal: Make sure your child is protected (IAC)
1-page summary for parents
>> Spanish-language
Protect Yourself from Pneumococcal
Protect Yourself from Pneumococcal (IAC)
1-page summary for teens and adults
>> Spanish-language
Pneumococcal Questions & Answers
Pneumococcal Q&As (IAC)
Pneumococcal disease and vaccine information
Clear Answers & Smart Advice About Your Baby’s Shots
Clear Answers & Smart Advice About Your Baby’s Shots (IAC)
By Ari Brown, MD, FAAP
Pneumococcal: Overview for Parents
Overview for Parents (CDC)
Frequently asked questions
>> Spanish-language
Pneumococcal Fact Sheet
Pneumococcal Fact Sheet (CDC)
More in-depth information, includes a real-life story
Pneumococcal Photos
Some of the images are quite graphic
>> view pneumococcal photos
This page was updated on May 17, 2018.
This page was reviewed on May 11, 2018.
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The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), a non-profit organization, works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance delivery of safe and effective immunization services. IAC also facilitates communication about the safety, efficacy, and use of vaccines within the broad immunization community of patients, parents, healthcare organizations, and government health agencies.