Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Pneumococcus, is a bacteria that is responsible for many illnesses in young children, including meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. It is the most common cause of “blood poisoning” or bacteremia, and is well known for it’s antibiotic resistance. Many illnesses caused by this bacteria can cause death or serious permanent damage. There are numerous different strains of this bacteria. The Pneumococcal Vaccine (PrevnarTM or PCV13) is a vaccine against 13 of the more common types of Pneumococcus. Since June of 2000 it has been recommended for use in all children under age 2 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Studies show this vaccine to be 97% effective against meningitis caused by this bacteria, as well as decreasing pneumonia by 11% and ear infections by 8%. It had unfortunately been hailed as “the ear infection vaccine”, but it is much more important than simply reducing ear infections.

An older Pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax) against 23 strains of this bacteria has previously been used over age 2 only for children at high risk of certain illnesses. This older vaccine is still available and still recommended for children with certain illnesses. Please ask your doctor about it if you have questions.

Prevnar Pneumococcal vaccine has been reported to cause the same typical side effects of most vaccines, which include soreness or redness at the injection site, fever, irritability, restless sleep, and decreased appetite. These uncommon side effects are usually gone within 48 hours after the vaccine is given. As with other vaccines, it may be administered during mild illness.

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