Pneumococcal vaccines recommended for at-risk adults

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The health industry recommends adults who are considered at risk of contracting pneumococcal disease receive vaccines designed to protect against the disease, which can sometimes be deadly.

Pneumococcal disease can result in infections in the bloodstream, known as bacteremia; pneumonia, which is an infection in the lungs; or infections of the spinal cord or brain, known as meningitis. 

Every year, thousands of adults die from pneumococcal disease in the U.S., including approximately 18,000 adults who are older than 65 years old. Countless more adults are hospitalized for the illness.

Health professionals maintain that the best way to prevent the disease is to receive a PPSV23 vaccine (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine), which protects against 23 pneumococcus bacteria strains; and/or PCV13, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine), which protects against 13 pneumococcus bacteria strains. Both vaccines protect people from bacteremia and meningitis, while PCV13 also protects against pneumonia.

Health professionals recommend that adults who are 65 or older receive both vaccines, with PCV13 given first and then PPSV23 approximately a year later.

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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