Significant confusion exists regarding the different types of pneumonia vaccine. Actually most people are unaware that two different pneumonia vaccines even exist. After failing to clarify what most scientists have long known, the CDC recently updated its recommendations but in typical governmental fashion added some element of confusion.
Prevnar 13 is mostly indicated for children. Children receive a total of 4 doses of this pneumonia vaccine. Immunization occurs at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and finally between 12-15 months. For most individuals no other treatment is necessary with this type of pneumonia vaccine. Due to its method of production, it stimulates the immune system in young children while the other vaccine does not.
Pneumovax 23 provides protection against 23 different serotypes of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae or simply pneumococcus. This pneumonia vaccine is recommended for senior citizens over age 65 years. It provides broader coverage against the bacteria. For the immunocompromised and those with underlying medical disorders, this type of pneumonia vaccine may be administered prior to age 65.
The pneumonia vaccine provides the greatest protection against complications of pneumonia related to pneumococcal infection – blood stream infection or sepsis and meningitis. Obviously many causes of pneumonia exist with viral infections being even more common than bacterial induced disease. Pneumonia vaccine only improves resistance to pneumonia of pneumococcal origin.