Patient Information: Pneumococcal Vaccines

What is Pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal disease is any infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae that can lead to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia (infection in the lungs), septicemia (infection of the blood) and meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain).

What vaccines are available?

Currently, there are 2 pneumococcal vaccines – Prevnar-13 and Pneumovax-23.

How are the two vaccines different?

Both vaccines are given to prevent pneumococcal infections. Prevnar-13 protects again 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria including 1 strain not in Pneumovax-23, and Pneumovax-23 prevents infection from 23 strains, including 11 that aren’t in Prevnar-13.

When do I get Prevnar-13? Is there a cost?

Prevnar-13 is given to babies at 0, 4 and 12 months of age as part of routine immunization. Prevnar-13 is also recommended for anyone 5 years of age and older at high risk of pneumococcal disease. This vaccine is provided free as part of the infant immunization program and to children and adults with certain medical conditions.  

When do I get Pneumovax-23? Is there a cost?

Pneumovax-23 is recommended for adults  > 50 years of age, residents of any age living in long-term care or assisted living facilities, and anyone 2 years of age and older with certain medical conditions. This vaccine is provided free to any adult > 65 years of age, residents of any age living in long-term care or assisted living facilities, and anyone 2 years of age and older with certain medical conditions.

Should I get need both vaccines?

Getting vaccinated against both vaccines is expected to prevent more pneumococcal infections.

What if I received Prevnar-13 already?

Pneumovax may be administered at least 8 weeks after receiving Prevnar-13.

What if I received Pneumovax-23 already?

Prevnar-13 may be administered at least 1 year after receiving Pneumovax.

How many doses do I need?

The usual adult dose for Prevnar-13 is a single dose. The usual adult dose for Pneumovax-23 is also a single dose but a booster may be required in some situations.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects of these vaccines include some redness, swelling, pain, and soreness at the injection site. They are usually mild and go away within a few days. Some people may not experience these side effects at all.

Do I need a prescription? Can I get my vaccination at BioPro Biologics Pharmacy?

No prescription is required. Injection Certified Pharmacists in British Columbia can administer any vaccine without a prescription to any individual at least 5 years of age.  Talk to an Injection Certified Pharmacist at BioPro Biologics Pharmacy for more information.

References:

  1. CPS [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Pharmacists Association; c2016 [updated 2016 04 15; cited 2018 08 10]. Pneumovax 23 [product monograph]. Available from: http://www.e-cps.ca or http://www.myrxtx.ca. Also available in paper copy from the publisher.
  2. Prevnar 13. In: Lexi-Drugs Online [database on the Internet]. Hudson (OH): Lexcomp, Inc; 2016 [updated 2018 07 17; 2018 08 10]. Available from : http://online.lexi.com.
  3. CTC [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Pharmacists Association; c2016 [updated 2018 03; cited 2018 08 10]. Community-Acquired Pneumonia. Available from: https://www.myrxtx.ca. Also available in paper copy from the publisher.
  4. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-immunization-guide-part-4-active-vaccines/page-16-pneumococcal-vaccine.html
  5. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/pcv-13-vaccine
  6. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/pneumococcal-polysaccharide-vaccine
  7. http://travelclinic.vch.ca/news/pneumo/
  8. https://www.prevnar.ca/EN/adult#safety-information

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