Pneumococcus are bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, including pneumonia, infection in the blood, and meningitis (infection in the tissues around the brain and spinal cord). In young children, pneumococcus bacteria often cause otitis media (middle ear infection), which can lead to more serious complications such as meningitis.
Although pneumococcal vaccines have been used for older children and adults for many years, a new form of pneumococcal vaccine is now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for all children younger than age 2. This vaccine is called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7). The AAP also recommends that PCV7 be given to all children ages 24 to 59 months of age who are at very high risk for developing pneumococcal infections. This includes children who have weakened immune (infection fighting) systems, such as those with sickle cell disease and HIV infection (human immunodeficiency virus).
PCV7 can be given along with other childhood vaccines and is recommended at the following ages:
Children who are sick or have a fever should wait until they are well to receive the PCV7 vaccine. Children who have had a prior reaction to any type of pneumococcal vaccine should not receive PCV7.
A vaccine, like any medication, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. However, the most common reactions to PCV7 include the following: