Many adults are at risk for pneumococcal disease (pneumonia). Two vaccines provide protection against this serious and sometimes deadly disease. Talk to your healthcare professional to make sure you’re up to date on these and other recommended vaccines.

What is it?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. (Source: CDC)

Why is it important?

Each year in the United States, pneumococcal disease kills thousands of adults, including 16,000 adults 65 years or older. Thousands more end up in the hospital because of pneumococcal disease with severe infections of the lungs (pneumonia), bloodstream (bacteremia), and lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Vaccines are the best way to prevent pneumococcal disease. (Source: CDC)

What types of vaccine are there?

Two vaccines help to prevent pneumococcal disease:

  • PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) - Prevnar
  • PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) – Pneumovax

PCV13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria and PPSV23 protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Both vaccines provide protection against illnesses like meningitis and bacteremia. PCV13 also provides protection against pneumonia.

Who should get it?

The CDC recommends 2 pneumococcal vaccines for all adults 65 years or older.

  • You should receive a dose of PCV13 first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 at least 1 year later.
  • If you already received any doses of PPSV23, get the dose of PCV13 at least 1 year after the most recent PPSV23 dose.
  • If you already received a dose of PCV13 at a younger age, the CDC does not recommend another dose.

How often should I get it?

For adults who are 65 and over and are otherwise healthy, the CDC currently recommends a one-time vaccination with the pneumonia vaccine and no booster vaccine. However, many doctors do give a second vaccine 5 -10 years after the first vaccine.

The CDC recommends against getting PCV13 and PPSV23 at the same time. If you need both vaccines, get PCV13 first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 at another visit. Talk with your healthcare professional to find out when you should come back for the second vaccine.

*Information on this page was referenced from