Prevnar 13 is made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Simply stated, the antigens in Prevnar 13 "trick" the body into thinking it has been exposed to pneumococcal bacteria. The body produces antibodies that will help fight the bacteria if future exposure occurs.
There are two basic types of pneumococcal vaccines: the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax®) and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (Prevnar and Prevnar 13). Pneumovax is the oldest of these vaccines and is used to prevent pneumococcal disease in adults and children over two years of age. However, it does not work well in infants and toddlers, since their immune systems are too immature to respond adequately to the vaccine.
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccines were developed specifically to allow the young immune systems of infants and toddlers to respond to it. The bacterial antigens in Prevnar 13 are bound, or "conjugated," to a nontoxic diphtheria protein; this change produces a much better immune response in young children.
In addition, Prevnar 13 is an improvement over the original Prevnar, as it provides protection against six more types of bacteria.
Some general considerations to keep in mind with Prevnar 13 include the following:
- This vaccine is given as one to four doses, depending on the age when the first dose is given (the older the child, the fewer doses that are given). Ideally, the series is started at two months of age and is finished by the time the child is 12 to 15 months of age (and all four doses are given), as this produces the best immune response.
- For adults (age 50 and up), this vaccine is given as a single dose.
- This vaccine is injected into a muscle, usually in the thigh (for younger children) or upper arm (for older children).
- The healthcare provider should shake the vial well before using Prevnar 13 and should not combine it with any other vaccines in the same syringe.
- Children can be vaccinated if they have a minor illness, such as the common cold. However, the vaccine should be postponed if the child is moderately or severely ill.