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What is a pneumococcal vaccine?

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A pneumococcal vaccine is a shot that protects against certain types of pneumococcal bacteria, which are known to cause pneumococcal disease, as stated by Vaccines.gov. As of 2015, the two pneumococcal vaccines include the four-dose PCV13 for children and the single-dose PPSV23 for adults.

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While the PCV13 protects against 13 of the 90 types of known pneumococcal bacteria, the PPSV23 protects against 23 types, as confirmed by Vaccines.gov. The four doses of PCV13 should be administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12 to 15 months of age, and this vaccine may also be given to adults who have medical conditions such as leukemia, HIV infection, chronic renal failure and sickle cell disease. The PPSV23 is recommended for adults who have asthma or who smoke, those 65 years of age and older, those with lowered immune function, and those with long-term health problems. In some cases, a doctor may recommend that a patient receive both vaccines.

Pneumococcal disease stands as the number one cause of illness in the United States that can be prevented by vaccine, according to Vaccines.gov. The disease may take the form of pneumococcal pneumonia, brain infection, middle ear infection and blood infection. The rate of invasive pneumococcal disease caused by certain types of the bacteria has reduced by 99 percent in the United States since the introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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