Pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) Vaccination

What is the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

The PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23 pneumococcal vaccines are specifically formulated to protect against the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). This bacterium is known to cause severe infections, including pneumonia (lung infection), meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord), and bloodstream infections.

How the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine works

Upon vaccination, your immune system will be prompted to produce antibodies against various strains of pneumococcus. If a vaccinated individual encounters this bacterium later on, these antibodies help deter or lessen the severity of the disease.

Types of pneumococcal vaccines

  • PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine). This vaccine protects against 13 strains of pneumococcus.
  • PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine). This vaccine protects against 23 strains of pneumococcus.
  • PCV20 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine). This newer vaccine combines the pneumococcus strains covered by PCV13 and seven additional strains from PPSV23, offering an extended range of protection.

Differences between pneumococcal PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23 vaccines

The first key area of difference is the distinction between polysaccharide and conjugate vaccine types.

Polysaccharide vaccines contain sugar molecules from bacterial coatings, prompting a direct immune response but without strong memory.

Conjugate vaccines link these sugars to proteins, enhancing the body's immune response and creating a lasting memory.

Thus, conjugate vaccines often provide longer-term protection and are more effective in infants and young children, while polysaccharide vaccines might require boosters due to their weaker memory response.

The next area of difference between the PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23 pneumococcal vaccines is the number of serotypes they cover.

As their names suggest, the PCV13 vaccine covers 13 serotypes, the PCV20 vaccine offers protection against 20 serotypes, and the PPSV23 vaccine covers 23 serotypes.

Why do you need the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

Pneumococcal infections can be severe and even fatal, particularly in children below 2 years, adults 65 years and older, those with certain medical conditions, and those with weakened immune systems.

Vaccination remains the most effective prevention against these complications.

In Singapore, the PCV13 and PPSV23 pneumococcal vaccines are recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) to enhance community immunity and reduce the spread of the disease.

The PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23 pneumococcal vaccines are available at Parkway Shenton clinics.

When do you need the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

The vaccination schedule is determined by factors such as age, health condition, and previous vaccination history. Infants often start with the PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) series, whereas older adults, typically 65 and above, should discuss the most suitable pneumococcal vaccine with their doctor.

Who should not receive the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

Those who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose or to any component of the vaccine should avoid it. Prior to vaccination, any known allergies or health issues should be discussed with your doctor.

How do you prepare for the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

It's important to inform your doctor about any allergies, prevailing health conditions, or reactions to past vaccines. Ensure you are well-hydrated and rested on the day of vaccination.

What can you expect when getting the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

The vaccine is typically administered as an injection in the upper arm. After you get the pneumococcal vaccine, your doctor may ask you to stay for a few minutes to ensure you have no side effects.

What are the common side effects of the pneumococcal (PCV13, PCV20, and PPSV23) vaccine?

Common side effects include:

  • Pain or swelling at the injection spot
  • Mild fever
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches

What are the serious side effects that require medical attention?

Although severe reactions are rare, they can include:

  • High fever
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Swelling around the eyes or mouth
  • Hives
  • Unusual paleness

If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a Parkway Shenton clinic near you and call us to confirm if your preferred vaccine is available.

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Frequently asked questions

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Yes, it is safe to get another type of pneumococcal vaccine after a certain interval, but always consult with your doctor regarding appropriate timings and potential interactions.

Generally, yes. The pneumococcal vaccine can often be administered concurrently with other vaccines, but it's vital to consult with your doctor for specifics.

Protection duration can vary depending on the type of vaccine and the age at which it's received. Some may require boosters for prolonged immunity. Discuss with your doctor for individualised advice.

If you miss a scheduled booster, consult with your doctor. It's usually recommended to get the booster as soon as you remember.

There aren't typically specific foods or medications to avoid post-vaccination. However, always adhere to advice from your doctor and report any unusual reactions.

While it's generally safe, the decision will depend on individual circumstances and potential risks. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor for guidance.

No, the pneumococcal vaccines are made from parts of the bacterium or inactivated bacteria, so they cannot cause the disease.

Protection generally starts within a few weeks after vaccination. However, optimal immunity might require multiple doses or boosters, depending on the vaccine type and recipient's age.

In most cases, a mild illness shouldn't prevent you from getting vaccinated. However, if you have a fever or more severe symptoms, it's best to reschedule.

Even if you've had a pneumococcal infection before, you can still benefit from the vaccine. Past infections might not offer immunity against all strains covered by the vaccine. Discuss your medical history with your doctor to determine the best course of action.

Researchers select strains based on their prevalence and potential to cause serious disease. Continuous monitoring of the circulating strains of the pneumococcus bacterium helps in updating the vaccine composition.

The goal is to include those strains that pose the most significant risk to public health, ensuring that the vaccine remains as effective as possible over time.

Why choose Parkway Shenton?

Comprehensive family care
Comprehensive family care

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Connection to IHH network

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Singapore’s oldest GP group

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