Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV 23)

About Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a germ bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae). This disease can cause a basket of dangerous conditions like pneumonia, middle ear infection, meningitis (swelling of the brain membranes) and bacteremia ( infection in blood stream).1 It  can strike at any age, but young children,  the elderly  and those with low immunity are especially vulnerable. It is often starts as a simple respiratory disease which can accelerate suddenly and become life-threatening.  This disease is contagious which means that it can spread from person to person, through air or through contact.

In untreated patients, this can proceed to multi-organ failure and death.

Why is a vaccine required?

Pneumonia remains one of the most common causes of death in children worldwide and pneumococcal germs are one of the major culprits behind this.3 Fatal complications may occur if this disease is not controlled in time. Hence, vaccines may help especially in the vulnerable group to prevent them from falling prey to this peril.

Children are especially susceptible to the pneumococcus infection and hence the PCV vaccination is given as a part of the immunization schedule. If the doctor feels that additional protection is required, he/ she may recommend the PPSV vaccine.

 Who should get the vaccine? 4

What is the schedule for PPSV vaccine?

The PPSV has to be given at least 8 weeks after the last dose of PCV (Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) to children 2 years or older with certain medical conditions like spleen problems or compromised immunity. 4

When should the PPSV vaccine be avoided?

PPSV should never be given alone for prevention of pneumococcal diseases amongst high–risk individuals4 .Children belonging to the risk category are given only after they finish an immunization series with PCV (Pneumococcal conjugated vaccines).

How effective is the vaccine? 5

This vaccine is effective in reducing the burden of invasive pneumococcal disease. However, unfortunately, it does not have equal effectivity in children younger than 2 years of age, hence the PCV vaccine (Hyperlink) is given to younger children and PPSV is reserved only for high-risk category.

Does it have any side effects?

PPSV is quite a safe vaccine with minimal side effects like redness, itching at the site, pain, slight fever and aches which go away after a couple of days. 6


1  J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Jan-Feb; 21(1): 27–35.

  1. Int J Gen Med. 2014; 7: 179–191.
  2. J Clin Invest. 2008 Apr 1; 118(4): 1291–1300.
  4. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Jan-Feb; 21(1): 27–35.
  5. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014 Jul; 11(6): 980–985.