The pneumococcal vaccination is a vaccine that protects your body against serious infection caused by the bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae which can lead to possible diseases like pneumonia, infection in the bloodstream (septicaemia) and infection of the meninges called meningitis. It is common to have such diseases among the infant and children as their immune system is still weak and growing to be mature. Without intervention, these diseases can cause further complications like death and permanent damage to the brain.
It is recommended for babies to get vaccinated against streptococcus pneumoniae. Apart from that, adults aged more than 65 years and old. It is also recommended for kids and adults with specific chronic conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease. In some countries, the pneumococcal vaccine is included in the national vaccination schedule for all children, while in some countries it is still optional and only recommended for high risk patients.
According to the new vaccination guidelines, babies born after 1st January 2020 will only receive 2 doses of vaccination, one at 12 weeks and another at 1 year old. While, for adults and high risk patients, the pneumococcal vaccination is given as one off vaccination or as 5 years once scheduled.
How many types of pneumococcal vaccinations are there?
Basically there are two types of pneumococcal vaccination available around the world. The first one is called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). This type is often given to kids below 2 years old as it is more effective in kids compared to the other type. On the other hand, adults aged more than 65 years old and for high risk patients, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is given. It is also recommended for high risk children with certain chronic illnesses to take the PPV vaccination rather than the PCV vaccination.
Your doctors will carefully choose the correct type of vaccine according to your health conditions and age.
How does the vaccine work?
Vaccination works by stimulating our immune response to produce adequate antibodies to fight against disease and illness caused by the particular organisms. In the pneumococcal vaccination, both the PCV and PPV vaccine contain inactivated or killed organisms of pneumococcal bacteria which after injected into our body will stimulate the antibodies production.
Antibodies are structural proteins that bind to bodies of antigen causing the illness and make them discoverable by immune cells to directly kill them and protect us from these hazardous illnesses. It is reported that the PCV is very effective in kids while the PPV is 50 to 70% effective against adults and high risk patients. Nevertheless, both vaccines are equally effective in protecting our body against the bacteria.
Who should not have the pneumococcal vaccine?
- Allergies towards vaccination
Do inform your doctor if you or your kids had any severe allergic reactions during the previous vaccination schedule. Severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis reaction manifesting as shortness of breath, edema of respiratory system and so forth is an absolute contraindication for pneumococcal vaccination.
If your kid only has mild to moderate reactions like rashes on the body, it is still recommended to have the vaccination with extra precautions. Not everyone taking the vaccine will show allergic reactions towards it.
- Ill during the vaccination appointment
If you or your kids are having some mild fever with no other associated symptoms, you are encouraged to continue with the vaccination. However, if you are severely ill like having very high temperature, shivering and lethargic, it is recommended to delay the vaccination to prevent any unwanted progression of side effects.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are not contraindications for the pneumococcal vaccination. However, it is recommended to wait for delivery before the injection.
Vaccinations of all sorts are provided everywhere. Thereby, during this pandemic season you can also visit the nearby hospitals to get the Covid 19 vaccine. To know more about the vaccination read here.