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pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax 23) Uses & Side Effects

What is pneumococcal vaccine-injection, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Pneumococcal vaccine is used for prevention of
pneumonia. This pneumococcal vaccine contains chemicals (polysaccharides)
extracted from 23 types of Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. Upon injecting
pneumococcal vaccine, our body recognizes these chemical as foreign and produces
antibodies to destroy the chemicals. Antibodies are blood protein that help the
body fight infection and destroy other harmful substances. Once produced, these
antibodies destroy injected Streptococcus pneumonia chemicals. However, the
antibodies remain active in the body and can detect the same chemicals from live
Streptococcus pneumonia in the future. If a vaccinated person comes in contact
with Streptococcus pneumonia the antibodies will destroy the bacteria and
prevent pneumonia or reduce its severity. The FDA approved pneumococcal vaccine
polyvalent in June 1983.

This vaccine should not be confused with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
(PCV13) used in special conditions (children <5 years old, for example) because
often in the medical literature the non-specific term "pneumococcal vaccine" is

What brand names are available for pneumococcal vaccine-injection?

Pneumovax 23, Pnu-Imune 23

Is pneumococcal vaccine-injection available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for pneumococcal vaccine-injection?


What are the side effects of pneumococcal vaccine-injection?

Common side effects of pneumococcal vaccine are:

  • Injection site pain
  • Redness
  • Soreness
  • Tenderness

Other side effects include:

Severe allergic reactions may occur.

What is the dosage for pneumococcal vaccine-injection?

The recommended dose is 0.5 ml injected intramuscularly or
subcutaneously. Routine revaccination is not recommended unless patients’
previous vaccine history is unknown.

Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV 23) is not recommended for children under the age
of 2.

Which drugs or supplements interact with pneumococcal vaccine-injection?

Administration of pneumococcal vaccine is not recommended
at the same time as zoster vaccine live (Zostavax). When they are given
concurrently, pneumococcal vaccine reduces the response of zoster vaccine
compared to those who received both vaccines 4 weeks apart.

Medications such as cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral) and tacrolimus (Prograf)
that weaken the immune system should not be used with pneumococcal vaccine.
Cyclosporine and tacrolimus reduce the effects of pneumococcal vaccine;
therefore, such patients must be evaluated before recommending pneumococcal

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Is pneumococcal vaccine-injection safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

It is not known whether pneumococcal vaccine enters

What else should I know about pneumococcal vaccine-injection?

What preparations of pneumococcal vaccine-injection are available?

  • Pneumococcal vaccine is a sterile, liquid vaccine for
    intramuscular or subcutaneous injections only.
  • Pneumococcal vaccines are
    available in 5-dose vials.
  • They are also available as a pack of 10 single dose
    vials and 10 single-dose pre-filled syringes.
  • Each 0.5 ml dose contains 25 mcg
    polysaccharide of each pneumococcal type.
How should I keep pneumococcal vaccine-injection stored?

Pneumococcal vaccine should be refrigerated between 2 C to 8
C (36 F to 46 F).


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