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North Carolina Immunization Branch

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Pneumococcal Disease

The Disease

Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). There are different types of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia, meningitis, and otitis media.

The Vaccine

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine.

  • The 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13®) is currently recommended for all children under 5 years of age.
  • The 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPVSV or Pneumovax®) is currently recommended for adults older than 65 years of age and for persons who are 2 years and older and at high risk for disease (e.g., sickle cell disease, HIV infection, or other immunocompromising conditions). It is also recommended for use in adults 19 through 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or who have asthma.

Who Should get Vaccinated?

  • Infants and Children under 2 Years of Age
    • PCV13 is routinely given to infants as a series of 4 doses, one dose at each of these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months.
    • Children who miss their shots or start the series later should still get the vaccine. The number of doses recommended and the intervals between doses will depend on the child’s age when vaccination begins. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
  • Children 2 through 5 Years of Age
    • Healthy children 24 months through 4 years of age who are unvaccinated or have not completed the PCV13 series should get one dose.
    • Children 24 months through 5 years of age with medical conditions such as those listed below should get one or two doses of PCV13 if they have not already completed the 4-dose series. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
      • sickle cell disease
      • a damaged spleen or no spleen
      • cochlear implants
      • cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
      • HIV/AIDS or other diseases that affect the immune system (such as diabetes, cancer, or liver disease)
      • chronic heart or lung disease
      • or children who take medications that affect the immune system, such as chemotherapy or steroids
  • Children 6 through 18 Years of Age
    • A single dose of PCV13 may be given to children 6 through 18 years of age with certain medical conditions (i.e., sickle cell disease, HIV-infection, or other immunocompromising condition, cochlear implant, or cerebrospinal fluid leaks), regardless of whether they have previously received a pneumococcal vaccine. Ask your healthcare provider for details.
  • Adults
  •  All adults 65 years of age and older.
    • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a long-term health problem such as:heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid or cochlear implant.  
    • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: Hodgkin’s disease; lymphoma or leukemia; kidney failure; multiple myeloma; nephrotic syndrome; HIV infection or AIDS; damaged spleen, or no spleen; organ transplant.
    • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, radiation therapy.
    • Any adult 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma.
    • Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

North Carolina Requirements

Pneumococcal vaccination is not required in North Carolina.

Additional Resources:

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