Prevnar 13: Not just for babies anymore


By Meagan J. Myers, RN - Health department



Recently, a huge study of Pfizer’s blockbuster vaccine known as Prevnar 13, showed an increase in protection against pneumonia and other bacterial infections in adults 65 and older. The study found that it protected most of them against dangerous infections in the bloodstream and other body areas as well.

This age group is particularly vulnerable, because of the normal weakening of the immune system as people age that makes them more likely to get life-threatening pneumonia and other infections caused by bacteria. The study proved that overall, Prevnar reduced community-acquired pneumococcal infections — those contracted outside of hospitals and nursing homes — by about 45.6 percent.

After the study showed this mass protection against these infections, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – ACIP – created new guidelines to include administering Prevnar 13 to adults 65 and older as their primary vaccine against pneumonia. They now recommend to follow up 12 months later and get the well-known Pneumovax 23 vaccine to provide optimal protection against pneumonia and other dangerous respiratory infections. These are two different vaccines that provide different types of protection for different bacteria that can cause pneumonia and other bacterial infections.

Prevnar 13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal disease, the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia and a top cause of death and hospitalization worldwide. The bacteria also causes children’s ear infections and other illnesses. Prevnar has been given to children for many years to protect them against this bacteria and is now available to provide this same protection to older adults as well.

The Sampson County Health Department provides this vaccine to children as well as adults. If you have already received the Pneumovax shot, talk with your primary care provider about receiving the Prevnar 13 vaccine to provide you the most protection against pneumococcal infections. The Prevnar 13 vaccine can be given 6-12 months after receiving the Pneumovax 23 vaccine. It is very important to get vaccinated to provide the most protection against disease especially if you have medical conditions such as Diabetes, COPD, Emphysema and immune disorders.

If you would like more information on the Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 vaccines, please give the Sampson County Health Department a call at 910-592-1131 extension 4972, 4248 or 4968. If you would like to make an appointment to get vaccinated please give us a call at extension 4001, 4960 or 4220.

By Meagan J. Myers, RN

Health department

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