Vaccine Options for Pneumonia Prevention

Prevnar 13: What are the benefits?

The Prevnar 13 vaccine is a single injection approved for adults over the age of 50 to help prevent infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Prevnar 13 contains 13 different strains of the pneumococcal bacteria that can lead to serious infection; infecting the sinuses and inner ear, the lungs, blood, and the brain. These conditions can be fatal if they are not treated properly.

This vaccine works by exposing the patient to a small amount of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria so that the body develops an immunity to the Pneumococcal disease. Although Prevnar 13 can cause the patient’s body to develop an immunity to the disease, it will not be able to treat an active infection that has already developed within the body.

There are very few risks associated with Prevnar 13. The most common reactions to the vaccine include redness, swelling, pain at the injection site, and limitation of arm movement. A few other side effects that have been reported include fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, decreased appetite, and chills. The risk of serious side effects remains extremely low when a patient receives the vaccine.

Pneumovax 23: What are the benefits?

Pneumovax 23 is also a vaccine given in a single injection that has been approved for patients aged 50 and older to prevent infections triggered by pneumococcal bacteria. Unlike Prevnar 13, Pneumovax 23 is able to cover up to 23 different strains of the pneumococcal bacteria.

This vaccine is very similar to Prevnar 13; it exposes the patient to a small amount of the bacteria to cause the body to develop an immunity to the Pneumococcal disease. The most common side effects patients experienced include injection-site pain, soreness, tenderness, swelling, induration, and erythema, as well as headache, fatigue, and myalgia.

How do they compare?

Both Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 are great combattants of pneumococcal bacteria infections that many adults over the age of 50 may experience. With both of these vaccines covering numerous strains of the disease, Pneumovax 23 does cover more and would be more effective against more strains than Prevnar 13. Both of these vaccines are covered by medicare but each one must alternate after one year before a patient can take the next vaccine.

If you have questions about either of these vaccines please contact one of our Holladay pharmacists at 1-800-848-3446.