Prevnar Vaccine Information
The childhood vaccine Prevnar® (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) is generally given to children under the age of two to prevent the following infections:
- Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) -- a group of potentially life-threatening diseases caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, such as bacterial meningitis and bacteremia
- Ear infections caused by certain strains of S. pneumoniae.
Prevnar works by "tricking" the body into thinking it has been exposed to pneumococcal bacteria. The body produces antibodies that will help fight the bacteria if future exposure occurs. Prevnar was developed specifically in a way to allow the young immune systems of infants and toddlers to respond to the vaccine.
This vaccine is given as one to four doses, depending on the age when the first dose is given (the older the child, the fewer doses that are given). Care must be taken when giving pneumococcal conjugate vaccines to individuals with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant medications ("blood thinners"). In some cases, your child's healthcare provider may decide that the risk of the injection is not worth the benefit.
(For more information about this vaccine, click Prevnar. This article further explores the benefits of Prevnar, offers more dosing information, and lists some of the potential side effects.)