Understanding the Pneumococcal Vaccination, Why it is important

Author: FITivate_B | Published date: November 17, 2022 | Category: Medical
Pneumococcal Vaccine

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Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal vaccine can protect against pneumococcal disease. It is caused by a bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumonia. There are more than 90 serotypes of this bacterium.

These bacteria can spread from person to person by

This bacteria can spread from person to person by

  • direct contact
  • respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing or sneezing
  • articles or surfaces contaminated with the infected droplets

Why protect against it?

Because pneumonia can attack many different parts of the body. and cause serious infections in the

  • lung , causing lung infection
  • sinuses causing sinusitis
  • middle ear, causing otitis media
  • brain, causing meningitis
  • it can also invade the blood, resulting in the pneumococcal bacteria spreading rapidly throughout the whole body via the blood stream, causing a potentially fatal infection known as septicaemia

Just for your information, Pneumonia is the 3rd top cause of death in Singapore in2020. Now, vaccination is generally the safest and most effective way to protect young children, older adults and people with specific medical condition and I will share more about them now.

Types of pneumococcal vaccines available in Singapore.

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines available in Singapore.

1) Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13 otherwise known as PCV13 -the brand available in Singapore is called Prevnar13.

2) Pneumococcal polysaccharide Vaccine 23 , PPSV23 -the brand available in Singapore is called Pneumovax23 

Both of these vaccines are inactivated vaccines - meaning they do not contain any live organisms.

Who should get vaccinated?

It is highly recommended that babies, adults over the age of 65 and children and adults with certain long term health conditions such as diabetes, diseases of the heart, lungs, liver and kidney as well as immunocompromised patients receive these vaccinations.


In Singapore, the Prevnar 13 is already in our national childhood immunization schedule. Babies should receive 3 doses at the age of 4 months, 6 months and 12 months. Elderlies above the age of 65 should get one dose of Prevnar 13 followed by one dose of pneumovax23 one year apart for lifelong protection

How well do these vaccines work?

Studies have shown that getting at least 1 shot of PCV13 can protect

  • at least 8 in 10 babies from serious infections
  • 3 in 4 adults 65 years or older against serious infections

Meaning they are about 75-80% effective.

Side effects

Side effects to the vaccinations are mostly mild, they include

  • allergic reactions
  • reactions where the shot was given, like redness, swelling and pain
  • fever
  • irritability in children
  • flu like reaction like lethargy, headache, body ache

But These side effects usually goes away within 2 days.

For your information

Now, pneumococcal vaccinations is now heavily subsidised or even free in Singapore. For all newborn, the prevnar13 vaccinations at 4,6 and 12 months is free at all polyclinics and all CHAS family clinics. For all eligible adults older than 65 or eligible young adults with certain chronic medical conditions, it is heavily subsidised in polyclinics and CHAS family clinics. You may even wish to utilise your Medisave to pay for the vaccines. 

By : Dr Chen Yiming

Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)



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