What is Streptococcus Pneumoniae / Pneumococcus?
Streptococcus pneumoniae (or referred as pneumococcus) is a Gram-positive bacterium encapsulated with polysaccharides. Pneumococcus can be found in the upper respiratory tracts including the nose, oral cavity, etc.
Individuals with compromised immune systems or those exposed to other microorganisms may be susceptible to pneumococcal infections and its associated illnesses, such as pneumonia, otitis media, meningitis, sepsis among others. The elderly population, individuals with weakened immunity due to a medical condition or chronic ailments and alcoholics are amongst the high-risk groups vulnerable to these diseases.
Get Vaccinated, Prevent Invasive Pneumococcal Diseases
Pneumococcal infections, such as pneumonia, otitis media, sepsis and meningitis are the primary cause of invasive pneumococcal diseases. These health complications can pose a threat to individuals with low immunity or persistent ailments.
Prevention plays a crucial role, measures include:
Maintain good personal hygiene
Frequently wash your hands after coming into contact with public amenities, as well before and following meals or visiting the restroom.
Exercise regularly & maintain proper nutrition
Engaging in routine physical activity and consuming a well-balanced diet that includes an appropriate amount of essential vitamins and minerals may contribute to enhancing the body’s immune system.
Invasive pneumococcal diseases, which pose a significant risk to immune-compromised individuals and those over the age of 65, can be effectively prevented through getting pneumococcal vaccines.
Different Types of Pneumococcal Vaccines
There are 2 types of pneumococcal vaccines, specifically the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) and the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13).
What is the difference between 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)?
23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV)
Preventing invasive pneumococcal diseases caused by 23 pneumococcal serotypes
Contains more stereotypes
Protection to those with weakened immunity and the elderly aged 65 or above us suboptimal
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)
Preventing both invasive pneumococcal disease and non-invasive pneumococcal pneumonia caused by 13 pneumococcal serotypes
Relatively effective against both invasive pneumococcal disease and non-invasive pneumococcal pneumonia, providing better protection to those with weakened immunity
Contains less stereotypes
Each of the pneumococcal vaccines has its own indications and restrictions, you are recommended to choose the vaccine according to your own condition and doctor’s suggestions.
Who Should Get Pneumococcal Vaccines?
The government recommends high-risk individuals aged 2 years or above shall receive a single dose of 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), followed by a single dose of 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) 1 year later*.
High-risk individuals include:
- The elderly aged 65 or above, especially to those with weakened immunity
- People with chronic diseases or with weakened immunity, such as patients of diabetes, heart disease, chronic pneumonia
- People who has undergone elective splenectomy, or with primary immune deficiency
- People with cochlear implants
- Residents of nursing homes or institutions
- Health care workers, laboratory workers, infant and child care workers, etc.
- People with history of invasive pneumococcal disease, or those whose family member or close contact has diagnosed invasive pneumococcal disease
Should Children Get Pneumococcal Vaccines?
The government recommends children under 2 years of age to receive pneumococcal conjugate vaccines under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunization Programme*. The age of vaccination is suggested to be 2 months, 12 months, and a booster shot in 12 months.
*Suggestions provided by The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (SCVPD)
Humansa provides Pneumococcal Vaccination
Humansa Pneumococcal Vaccination (with GP consultation)
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
Generally 2 – 3 doses
23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
Generally 1 dose
FAQs of Pneumococcal Vaccines
Typically, 2 to 3 doses of PCV13 are necessary while generally only 1 dose suffices for 23vPPV.
Receiving the pneumococcal vaccine typically poses minimal risk, although certain adverse reactions may occur like tenderness and inflammation in the injection area, fever, headache among others. Occurrence of intense discomfort or restricted mobility of the vaccinated arm is infrequent.
If you have had an allergic reaction to a component of the pneumococcal vaccine or a
Individuals who have experienced an allergic reaction to any ingredient in the pneumococcal vaccine or a vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid should not receive the vaccination. Prior consultation with your doctor or healthcare provider is suggested before receiving the vaccine.
The above information is for reference only and shall not be considered as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider for further enquiries.