What is Streptococcus pneumonia (pneumococci)?
Pneumococci can be carried on human bodies, and usually be located at the upper respiratory tracts, which could also be found in healthy people (i.e. be a carrier of the bacteria). The bacteria could be spread and transmitted through respiratory droplets, direct oral contact, or even indirect contact with articles soiled with respiratory discharges. In general, pneumococcal infection could cause a wide variety of diseases, for example, sinus or middle ear infections, which are considered to be mild illnesses. It could also cause invasive pneumococcal diseases, including bacteremic pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis, which could be fatal. The outcomes are usually more critical among children and elderly.
Why is it necessary to undertake 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)?
Any individual suffering from pneumococcal infections would normally be treated with the use of antibiotics. However, the bacterium will be more and more antibiotic-resistant at the same time. Hence, it is recommended to take prevention measures, while PCV13 is one of the most effective means to avoid pneumococcal diseases.
Ten most common FAQs about 1313-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)
- Undertaking 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13) could protect individuals against COVID-19?
Some researches demonstrated that PCV13 can only safeguard individuals’ health from infection of particular bacterium. Pneumococcal vaccine has no association and protection against any coronavirus pneumonia, which includes pneumonia that could be part of COVID-19. However, PCV13 is still highly recommended to protect against any possible respiratory illness.
- Is it possible to undertake COVID-19 vaccine along with PCV13?
Any individual is advised to reserve an interval of at least 14 days between the administration of COVID-19 vaccine and PCV13.
- Why is it imperative for senior to take both influenza immunization and PCV13?
With a reference of some researches, it shows that dual vaccination with both influenza immunization and PCV13 can decrease the risk of hospitalization and mortality among elderly.
- Is it possible to undertake influenza immunization along with PCV13?
Yes, but they should be administered with separate syringe and at a discrete injection site.
- Who is eligible for taking PCV13?
Per advice from the Centre for Health Protection,
- Children aged under 2 years should receive pneumococcal conjugate vaccines under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunization Programme (HKCIP).
- Individuals with high-risk conditions aged 2 years or above should receive a single dose of PCV13, then followed by a single dose of 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) a year later.
- Elderly aged 65 or above without high-risk conditions are recommended to take a single dose of either PCV13 or 23vPPV.
High-risk conditions refer to:
- With the history of invasive pneumococcal disease
- Under immunocompromised states:
o Asplenia, HIV/AIDS, Primary immunodeficiency
o Immunodeficiencies due to malignancies and transplantation
o Immunodeficiencies due to the use of immunosuppressive drugs or systemic steroid
o Chronic cardiac, pulmonary, liver or renal disease
o Diabetes mellitus or cerebrospinal fluid leakage
*Essential hypertension per se is not considered as high risk condition.
There are different factors which could affect the risk of getting pneumococcal disease, including age and clinical condition. It is suggested that patients with high-risk conditions should check with doctors for the most appropriate vaccination regimen.
- If any person had contracted with pneumococcal disease previously, is he/she immune from future invasive pneumococcal diseases?
There are more than 90 serotypes of pneumococcus being described, previous infection of a certain serotype of pneumococcus could not confer the immunity towards the remaining serotypes of pneumococcus.
- How can we differentiate 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV) and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)?
PCV13 is indicated to be effective for protection from both invasive pneumococcal disease and non-invasive pneumococcal pneumonia. Meanwhile, the efficacy of 23vPPV towards the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease is affirmative, yet the efficacy against non-invasive pneumococcal pneumonia remains suboptimal.
- If the elderly has already been administered with PCV13 before, is it necessary to take another vaccination of pneumococcal vaccine?
If the elderly is not considered as high-risk individual, no further pneumococcal vaccination is required.
- Who are not recommended to receive pneumococcal vaccines?
Any individual suffering from an allergy to a prior dose of pneumococcal vaccine, or to vaccine component, or any diphtheria toxoid-containing vaccine should refrain from any further vaccination.
- What are the possible adverse reactions following PCV13 administration?
It is possible to experience slight swelling and tenderness at the injection site, and there is a likelihood to encounter fatigue, headache, mild fever, chill or muscle pain, which are considered to be the adverse reactions after vaccination as well.