Who Needs a Pneumonia Vaccine and How Often?

Mar 15, 2024
Who Needs a Pneumonia Vaccine and How Often?
While anyone can get pneumonia, some groups are at increased risk of complications from this respiratory infection. Pneumonia vaccines offer significant protection against this sometimes deadly ailment. Do you need one?

COVID-19 raised public consciousness about life-threatening infections. Pneumonia is another infection that could send you to the hospital; it can even lead to death. The very young as well as older adults are most at risk: About 85% of deaths from the flu and pneumonia are among those age 65 and older. 

Our board-certified physicians at Primary & Urgent Care South in Warrior, Alabama, and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, administer pneumococcal vaccines on a regular immunization schedule to children and older adults at primary care visits. Those at higher risk of illness can receive additional vaccine protection. 

Here’s what you need to know about the vaccines and when you should get one.

What is pneumonia, and why can it be dangerous?

Pneumonia is an infection that attacks your lungs. You can get the infection from bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. 

Pneumonia is the No. 1 cause of sepsis, an infection that spreads throughout your body and can cause organ failure and death. If pneumonia invades the membrane covering your brain, it can cause meningitis, another life-threatening disease. 

Who’s at risk of pneumonia? 

Pneumonia can attack anyone. However, children under age 2, adults over age 65, and people with compromised immune systems from medical conditions like cancer, HIV, diabetes, and heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease have the highest risk.

Pneumonia vaccines

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has licensed four pneumococcal vaccines:  

  • PCV13 (Prevnar 13®)
  • PCV15 (Vaxneuvance®)
  • PCV20 (Prevnar 20®)
  • PPSV23 (Pneumovax23®)

All are effective at fighting pneumonia. 


Doctors administer PCV 13 to babies, children, and older adults. Children less than 2 years old are most at risk in the younger age group because their immune system is still developing. 

We give PCV13 to children at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months and to older children who need it. It helps protect against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause serious disease in children and adults. PCV 13 is also used for adults age 50 and older. 

PCV15 and PCV20

As with PCV 13, we administer PCV 15 and PCV 20 to children at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months and to older children who are immunocompromised. We also administer it to adults 65 and older. Once you receive it, you’re protected against 15 types of pneumococcal bacteria.  

In 2022, the FDA licensed PCV15 for children age 6 weeks through 17 years, based on clinical trial data showing that it’s safe for this group. 

We administer PCV20 to senior adults aged 65 years or older in addition to any adult at higher risk for pneumonia. This vaccine protects against 20 types of pneumococcal bacteria.

IN 2021, the FDA licensed both PCV15 and PCV20 for use in patients over age 18. Clinical trial data show these vaccines are safe and effective. 


We administer PPSV23 to children age 2-18 as well as to adults who’ve been vaccinated with PCV15 or PCV13. PPSV23 protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Your child’s doctor administers PCV 13 and PCV 15 on a regular immunization schedule, so you don’t have to keep track of each vaccine yourself.

All older adults need these two pneumonia vaccines 

If you’re 65 or older, you should be sure to get two pneumonia shots: PCV 13 and PPSV23. We check your health record when you have your appointment, so we let you know when you need one of these shots. 

The risks with pneumonia are real, and vaccinations provide important protection. Bo be sure you and your family are up to date with pneumococcal vaccines. Call Primary & Urgent Care South or book an appointment online.