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Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

How Does the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine Work?

This vaccine contains polysaccharide (sugar) molecules from the outside coating of the S. pneumoniae bacteria. Simply stated, pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine "tricks" the body into thinking it has been exposed to the actual bacteria, but without the risks of a real infection. If future exposure to the bacteria occurs, the immune system "remembers" the bacteria and is better able to fight it off.
 
This vaccine is different from the pneumococcal vaccine used in infants (Prevnar®, Prevnar 13®). The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine contains antigens from 23 different types of S. pneumoniae, while the infant vaccine contains antigens from only 7 types (for Prevnar) or 13 types (for Prevnar 13). Also, the polysaccharides in the infant vaccines are bound, or "conjugated," to a nontoxic diphtheria protein; this change produces a much better immune response in young children.
 

When and How to Get Vaccinated

Some general considerations to keep in mind with pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine include the following:
 
  • This vaccine is typically given as a single dose. In some high-risk individuals, a second dose may be recommended five years after the first.
     
  • The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is injected either into a muscle (intramuscularly) or just under the skin (subcutaneously), usually in the upper arm.
     
  • People can be vaccinated if they have a minor illness, such as the common cold. However, the vaccine should be postponed if the individual is moderately or severely ill.
     
  • The vaccine can be given at the same time as a seasonal influenza vaccine, although the two vaccines should be given in separate arms.
     
Warning: 10 Hidden Sources of Lactose

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine Information

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