PCV13 Vaccine Found 70% Effective Against CAP Hospitalizations in Seniors

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine Prevnar 13 protects both children and adults from pneumococcal disease

older person hand in lap

Each year in the United States, pneumococcal disease causes thousands of infections, such as meningitis, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and ear infections.

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children less than 2 years of age and adults over 65 years, are the most at risk. 

The good news is that the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13) vaccination can protect both children and adults from pneumococcal disease, which is caused by a bacteria.

To learn how the 13-valent PCV13 works for adults over 65 years old, researchers conducted the first, real-world evaluation of this vaccine’s effectiveness (VE) against community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), in this population.

These researchers, using a test-negative study design, found an unadjusted vaccine effectiveness (VE) of 72.8 percent against hospitalized cases of 2,034 CAP.

Additionally, the VE against non-bacteremic Vaccine-Type (VT) CAP was similar (70 percent), given that the large majority (91 percent) of cases were non-bacteremic. Non-bacteremic CAP makes up the vast majority of pneumococcal disease in adults, says the CDC. 

Furthermore, these researchers said it is both reassuring and noteworthy that PCV13 VE against VT-CAP was confirmed in a US population with a high prevalence of immunocompromising conditions (46 percent) and other chronic medical conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (53 percent).

In summary, the study said ‘Given the effectiveness of PCV13 and the remaining VT-CAP disease burden in adults aged 65+ observed in our study, the potential public health benefit of continued PCV13 vaccination in this population, remains substantial.

These positive results support the existing vaccination recommendation.

In September 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) revised their 17-year-old pneumococcal vaccination recommendation for older adults to include PCV13, for use for all adults aged 65+.

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Since that time, over 30 percent of US adults aged 65+ have received PCV13, which protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria, said the CDC.  

The ACIP said it will reevaluate the recommendation for routine use of PCV13 in adults aged 65+ in 2018, and revise as needed.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that can spread from person to person through close contact. It can cause ear infections, and it can also lead to more serious infections of the:

  • Lungs (pneumonia),
  • Blood (bacteremia), and
  • Covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

Most private health insurance policies cover pneumococcal vaccines and Medicare Part B also covers 100 percent of the cost for both pneumococcal vaccines.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information.

Vaccine discount information in the USA can be found here. 

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.

This study was sponsored by Pfizer Inc., and several researchers reported potential conflicts of interest.