Types of Pneumococcal Vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine is majorly categorised into two types:

  • Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine
  • Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine:

This is a vaccine specifically for infants and toddlers. It prevents the occurrence of pneumococcal disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which leads to bacterial meningitis, blood infections and other severe health complications in young children. Moreover, the vaccine obstructs the spread of the disease which is communicable. The risk of contracting a pneumococcal infection is the greatest during the first two years of life. This pneumococcal vaccine provides an infant with a protection period of three years; thus giving them protection when they most need it.

This vaccine is administered routinely to infants below 2 years of age in 4 doses at the age intervals of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12-15months. It is also given to children falling in the age group of 2-4 years if they are suffering from medical conditions and complication on the lines of

  • Sickle cell disease
  • An injured spleen or absence of spleen
  • Ailments that impair the immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes)
  • Chronic lung or heart disease
  • Children on medication such a chemotherapy, radiation etc which significantly weaken the immune system

This type of pneumococcal vaccine is also essential for children who have been placed in group child care or are of Alaskan or Native American origin. The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine should be avoided by children who have experienced a life-endangering allergic reaction to a prior dose or are allergic to a vaccine constituent.

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine:

This type of pneumococcal vaccine is instrumental in preventing infections like pneumonia, meningitis, as well as those infiltrating the blood. This vaccine is falls under the inactivated bacteria category; hence it immunizes you against the bacteria. In effect, the immune system is activated to produce antibodies to counter the bacteria in case of exposure. This reduces the odds of you falling ill from an infection traced to Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

This vaccine is recommended for individuals in the following groups:

  • Adults aged 65 years or older
  • Persons exceeding two years of age classified as high-risk due to:

  1. 1. Occurrence of chronic heart or lung disease which includes diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, alcoholism, leak of cerebrospinal fluid, cirrhosis
  2. 2. Presence of spleen dysfunctions like sickle cell disease
  3. 3. Removal of spleen (Splenectomy) or a non-functioning spleen (asplenia)
  4. 4. Leukaemia
  5. 5. Multiple myeloma
  6. 6. Renal failure
  7. 7. Weak immune system (caused due to HIV/AIDS, cancer, organ transplantation)
  8. 8. Medications that deteriorate the immune system such as steroids
  9. 9. Living in nursing homes or a place where people with long-term health conditions reside

10. Alaskan natives and certain American Indian populations

Persons with a track-record of hyper sensitivity to a dosage of this vaccine should refrain from using it. It is generally given as a single dose for most people. It must be noted that the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine does not provide protection from pneumococcal disease to persons under the age of 2. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is required for this purpose.

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