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Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

Brand Name(s): Pneumovax® 23

Other Name(s): PPV23

Why get vaccinated?

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) can prevent pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease refers to any illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria. These bacteria can cause many types of illnesses, including pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. Pneumococcal bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia.

Besides pneumonia, pneumococcal bacteria can also cause:

  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Meningitis (infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
  • Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years of age, people with certain medical conditions, adults 65 years or older, and cigarette smokers are at the highest risk.

Most pneumococcal infections are mild. However, some can result in long-term problems, such as brain damage or hearing loss. Meningitis, bacteremia, and pneumonia caused by pneumococcal disease can be fatal.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)

PPSV23 protects against 23 types of bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease.

PPSV23 is recommended for:

  • All adults 65 years or older
  • Anyone 2 years or older with certain medical conditions that can lead to an increased risk for pneumococcal disease

Most people need only one dose of PPSV23. A second dose of PPSV23, and another type of pneumococcal vaccine called PCV13, are recommended for certain high-risk groups. Your health care provider can give you more information.

People 65 years or older should get a dose of PPSV23 even if they have already gotten one or more doses of the vaccine before they turned 65.

Talk with your health care provider

Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of PPSV23, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone PPSV23 vaccination to a future visit.

People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting PPSV23.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

What are the risks of a vaccine reaction?

  • Redness or pain where the shot is given, feeling tired, fever, or muscle aches can happen after PPSV23.

People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.

What if there is a serious problem?

An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.

For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider. Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at http://www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff do not give medical advice.

How can I learn more?

  • Ask your health care provider.
  • Call your local or state health department.
  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Call 1-800-232-4636 ( 1-800-CDC-INFO) or visit CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10/30/2019.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: March 15, 2020.