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All You Need to Know about PCV Vaccine


There were times when people suffered from various types of diseases that would take a toll on their overall health and cause them severe damage, and even death in extreme cases. Today’s world, however, is not a place for those sorts of miseries anymore, thanks to the eminent medical advancements that have paved the way for us to live healthier and less-troubled lives.

Among the dozens of essential vaccines that one should take in a lifetime, the PCV vaccine claims an important place in the slot. It is one of the two pneumococcal vaccines that immunize the body against pneumococcal disease.

Even though the immune system produces antibodies against certain germs after getting infected, the pneumococcal vaccine remains imperative as people may go through pneumococcal infection again in the future even if they have had it formerly.


“Read on to learn more about the pneumococcal vaccine, its types, and the expected side effect.”


Everything about the PCV Vaccine 

As the most given type of PCV vaccine, PCV13 is a preferable option for infants because of its conjugate nature, which triggers a proper immune response. Four shots of PCV13 are recommended for infants of 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months, respectively. Besides, falling out of the vaccination schedule marginally should not be a matter of worry as children younger than 5 are permitted to receive PCV13 as well.

With this in mind, not all adults have received PCV13 in their childhood. They are recommended to get vaccinated especially if their health is in danger due to severe health conditions. Immunocompromising conditions appear at the top of the list since they are known to weaken the immune system to a large extent. Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system), both congenital or acquired immunodeficiency, human immunodeficiency virus, chronic renal failure, organ transplant, both congenital or acquired asplenia, and hemoglobinopathies like sickle cell disease are some of the most common examples.

Along with immunocompromising conditions, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak can be another threat that can put you at risk. It occurs when the colorless CFS is found in the nose or ear instead of the peripheral tissues around the brain and the spinal cord. Moreover, a cochlear implant can influence the immune system negatively. You can consult your doctor to measure the urgency of the PCV13 vaccination.

Although it is strongly recommended to get PCV and PPSV23 vaccines in order to ward off some conditions that can bring about severe health problems and even cost your life, the chances are that you still develop the pneumococcal disease. That said, it is always for the best to avoid harm beforehand, and guarantee your body’s immunity to the fullest extent.


Side Effects of the PCV Vaccine 

Since no live bacteria could be found in the pneumococcal vaccine, not many side effects are expected. Headache, fever, joint pain, fatigue, muscle aches, chills, and irritability are some side effects that may or may not strike you. There can also be some more effects occurring around the spot the injection is given, including swelling, redness, hardness, and tenderness.


Who Should Avoid PCV Vaccines 

Despite different age groups with a wide range of mild or serious conditions that may find the pneumococcal vaccine helpful, some people are advised to avoid it or keep it for later at least.

Pregnant women are the first group that needs to be more cautious with the pneumococcal vaccine. Although there is no prescribed instruction for getting PCV or PPSV23 vaccines during pregnancy, it’s recommended to postpone the vaccination until after you have given birth. Still and all, aforesaid high-risk conditions may overshadow these precautions, and necessitate receiving the pneumococcal vaccine. It is worth mentioning that CDC suggests PPSV23 to pregnant women, but gives no account regarding PCV13.

Another group of people who need to be on alert about the pneumococcal vaccine is those allergic to certain ingredients. Some individuals may have experienced anaphylaxis when the immune system overreacts to a trigger. Although it’s usually unlikely to show any allergic reaction to the pneumococcal vaccine, make sure you talk this matter over with your doctor. If you have had a similar condition before, it’s for the best to stir away from the vaccine.

Last but not least, people who get infected are generally advised to hold on until they are fully recovered, especially if symptoms like sweating, shivering, or high temperature have become acute.  


Different Types of Pneumococcal Vaccines 

The Pneumococcal Infections

To give a brief insight into this ailment, pneumococcal infections can usually bring about a variety of health conditions, such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and ear infections. It’s caused by streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, and certain ages and overall health status may increase the probability of getting infected.

The pneumococcal vaccine is considered one of the most crucial vaccines recommended by valid health organizations. Caused by the bacterium called pneumococcus with approximately 90 subtypes, pneumococcal disease can be a serious threat.

As the most common condition, pneumonia could turn out to impose severe damage to the lungs and cause death if worse comes to worst. Coughs with phlegm, difficulty with breathing, chills, and shivering are typical symptoms of pneumonia. That should be enough reason to take pneumococcal vaccination seriously. Additionally, the flu can have indirect influences and increase the risk of pneumococcal disease. Thus, receiving an influenza vaccine once a year would be most beneficial.

Pneumococci bacteria mainly target the lungs and the respiratory tract, and that explains why pneumococcal pneumonia is the most frequent condition caused by pneumococci. Along with that, meningitis and bacteremia are other known conditions with high-frequency rates. That being so, it is a must to keep the body from this harm through pneumococcal vaccines. Generally, there are two types of pneumococcal vaccines, namely Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV13, PCV15, PCV20) and Pneumococcal Polysaccharide (PPSV23).


The PCV Vaccine 

Most common for infants, PCV13 is the first type of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that defends against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is usual to give a shot of PCV13 in the muscle. Additionally, PPSV23 is reported to protect against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, and both the muscles or the fatty tissue of the leg or arm are usual spots where a shot of PPSV23 is given. In addition, both can work the best to immunize kids 2-18 years old and adults 19-64 years old who suffer from serious conditions, like Hodgkin disease and kidney failure.  

People more exposed to probable pneumococcal infections are babies at two years old and younger and adults aged sixty-five or over. The former group is usually recommended to receive PCV13 or PCV15, while the former crew would find PCV15, PCV20, or PPSV23 more effective.

That, however, is not the end of the story. Special medical conditions can make things unstable and put the subjects at high risk of pneumococcal infections, though they may have received PCV or PPSV13 vaccines. Thus, it is beneficial to get another dose or two if you see yourself susceptible to pneumococcal disease. Children of 5 to 18 years old and adults of 19 to 64 years old with long-term health conditions are entitled to get the additional doses.


The PPSV13 Vaccine 

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV23, is not the most suitable option for babies aged two years old or below. Regarding the essential compound of the PPSV23 vaccine, it is a pure polysaccharide vaccine. Consequently, infants up to 2 years of age cannot be privileged with long-term immunity, and even multiple doses will not deliver desirable results.

Despite that, the scope of the PPSV23 vaccine’s functionality is remarkably broad, and individuals aged two years or older may get recommended to get PPSV23. Anyone who is afflicted with long-running health problems, including diabetes, lung disease, cardiovascular disease (CVD), or sickle cell anemia (SCA), should get PPSV23 at certain periodic intervals.

Moreover, some long-standing drug treatments, such as specific cancer drugs, long-term steroids, and radiation therapy, are expected to wear down one’s immune system against infections. Thus, anyone who has to deal with the aforementioned drugs is permitted to get the PPSV23 vaccine.  

What’s more, a variety of conditions known to be extremely detrimental to the body’s defense system can be another reason to get PPSV23. Placed in this category are HIV infection, kidney failure, lymphoma, and organ transplant just to mention a few. Nonetheless, the PPSV23 vaccine is not required only for people with special health conditions, but also for ordinary adults who cope with alcoholism, or smoke cigarettes on a daily basis.


Differences Between the Types 

The difference between the two types finds its root in the fundamental process of their production. PCV vaccine encompasses a protein that is conjugated to purified capsular polysaccharides (long chains of carbohydrate molecules) taken from the bacteria. On the other hand, the conjugated protein is missing from the PPSV23 vaccine, leaving it as an option more apt for older people.


PCV Vaccine Providers 

As of now in 2023, the U.S Food & Drug Administration has licensed four pneumococcal vaccines overall, 3 of which are Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccines (PCV), while the other one is a Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccine. With the tradenames of Prevnar 13 and 20, the FDA-licensed PCV13 and PCV20 available now are the products of Pfizer in the market. Also, the German company Merck holds the other two available options with the tradenames of PNEUMOVAX 23 (PPSV23) and Vaxneuvance (PCV15) as its representatives.  


The Pricing

As all people around the world cannot tackle the ubiquitous trouble of stiff price tags on vaccines, so is the case with the pneumococcal vaccines. According to CDC, Prevnar 20 costs almost $173 per dose as CDC cost and $249 per dose as a private sector cost. It is while Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance costs nearly $150 and $216 per dose as CDC and private sector costs, respectively.  

That said, the regulations around the charges vary. The PCV vaccine is considered crucial and included in vaccination programs in the United States, Australia, and many European countries. The vaccines or administration fees are self-paid in some cases but are mostly covered by health insurance. Although these charges do not appear fatal to everyone, they can cause a large group of people in different areas, especially in developing countries, serious problems with bearing the expense of the vaccine. 


More Economical Alternatives

Along with pioneering manufacturers whose products might be over-priced for some people, some companies offer more affordable products. With the latest state-of-the-art technologies, it is possible today to make biosimilars, a new type of vaccine recently introduced to the market. They offer the exact functions and effects with similar quality.

If you wish to cut down the costs while receiving the same advantages, you can consider checking up on the available biosimilar pneumococcal vaccines. To give an instance, one of the forward-looking manufacturers of biosimilars is Opal Biopharma (OBP), which makes biosimilars of a range of vaccines, including PCV. Based in Oman, Opal Biopharma plays a leading role in making pharmaceutical products more accessible to all people around the globe.  



Pneumococcal disease is categorized into two types bacteremia and meningitis, causing infections of the bloodstream or meninges, respectively. In general, it appears mild and should not be a matter of worry, though it can get life-threatening. In any case, the PCV vaccine is essential for everyone, and it is recommended to have the necessary shots at an early age. Moreover, people who suffer from special health conditions must take pneumococcal infections seriously, and stay on track with their vaccination schedule.

Thanks to the numerous options, you can pick the suitable type of vaccine according to your situation, and, of course, your budget. It is also crucial to take all the side effects into account and reconsider having an injection and even consult your doctor under some circumstances, such as pregnancy or anaphylaxis. 

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