Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13): What You Need to Know

Why get vaccinated?

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) 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 (infection of the blood)

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years old, 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.

PCV13

PCV13 protects against 13 types of bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease.

Infants and young children usually need 4 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, at ages 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months. Older children (through age 59 months) may be vaccinated if they did not receive the recommended doses.

A dose of PCV13 is also recommended for adults and children 6 years or older with certain medical conditions if they did not already receive PCV13.

This vaccine may be given to healthy adults 65 years or older who did not already receive PCV13, based on discussions between the patient and health care provider.

Talk with your health care provider

Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of PCV13, to an earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine known as PCV7, or to any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid (for example, DTaP), or has any severe, life-threatening allergies

In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone PCV13 vaccination until 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 PCV13.

Your health care provider can give you more information.

Risks of a vaccine reaction

  • Redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness where the shot is given, and fever, loss of appetite, fussiness (irritability), feeling tired, headache, and chills can happen after PCV13 vaccination.

Young children may be at increased risk for seizures caused by fever after PCV13 if it is administered at the same time as inactivated influenza vaccine. Ask your health care provider for more information.

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 www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.

How can I learn more?

  • Ask your health care provider.
  • Call your local or state health department.
  • Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vaccine package inserts and additional information at www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines.
  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
    • Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or
    • Visit CDC's website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

Vaccine Information Statement

PCV13

8/6/2021

42 U.S.C. § 300aa-26

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many vaccine information statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis

Hojas de información sobre vacunas están disponibles en español y en muchos otros idiomas. Visite www.immunize.org/vis