Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine | 13-valent (PCV-13)
Infection with pneumococcal bacteria can cause fever, ear infections, meningitis and pneumonia. These conditions can make infants and young children very miserable, and in some cases can even be life threatening. That is why doctors have long recommended that children get four doses of the pneumococcal bacteria vaccine PCV7.
This routine immunization schedule helps protect young children against seven strains or types of pneumococcal bacteria. Because doctors have vaccinated children with PCV7 since 2000, significantly fewer children now become ill from these seven strains.
However, even though there is less disease overall, other strains of pneumococci that PCV7 does not protect against have become more common. As a result, children are now at increased risk from these other types of pneumococcal bacteria, including one type that can resist treatment with antibiotics.
How can I protect my child?
The manufacturers of the PCV7 vaccine have developed an updated version of their vaccine called PCV13 that protects against another six strains of pneumococcal bacteria. In particular, PCV13 vaccine protects against serotype 19A, which has become the most common type of pneumococcal bacteria and is often difficult to treat because it can sometimes resist antibiotics.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that children who have received PCV7 vaccine injections also get a "supplement" dose of the new PCV13 vaccine to more fully protect them against being infected with pneumococcal bacteria.
Children 1 to 5 years of age should receive a single, supplemental dose of PCV13. It does not matter whether a child received fewer than four or all four doses of PCV7 according to schedule. Children ages 1 to 6 with conditions that compromise their immune systems — such as sickle cell disease or HIV infection — should receive a single dose of PCV13 too.
This single supplemental dose is just as safe as the older vaccine and receiving it poses no new dangers. Indeed, it will help protect these children against the additional six strains of pneumococcal bacteria.