What Is the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Used For?

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helps prevent invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), a group of infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. IPD diseases include bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, and pneumonia. The vaccine also helps prevent certain types of ear infections. Although there are approved uses for the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in other age groups, the product is primarily given to children during infancy and toddlerhood.

What Is the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Used For?

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (Prevnar 13®) is a routine childhood vaccine used to prevent pneumococcal disease, including serious pneumococcal diseases, as well as ear infections. Ideally, it is used in infants and toddlers, although it can also be used in older children who did not receive the vaccine earlier.
 
Prevnar 13 is the "new-and-improved" version of Prevnar that provides protection against more types of the bacteria. The old Prevnar is no longer being made.
 
Prevnar 13 has also been approved to prevent pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease in adults age 50 years and older.
  

Using the Vaccine to Prevent IPD

Most importantly, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helps 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)
  • Pneumonia.
     
IPD causes about 200 deaths per year among children under the age of five in the United States.
 

Using the Vaccine to Prevent Ear Infections

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is also approved to prevent ear infections caused by S. pneumoniae. However, the main reason to use this vaccine is to prevent IPD, as it 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 pneumococcal conjugate vaccine's ability to protect against ear infections appears to be rather low.
 
A Dose of Reassurance for Parents of Picky Eaters

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Information

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