Pneumococcal Vaccine Prevnar 13 for Adults Now Available

Prevnar 13 is now licensed for adults over 50 and available for purchase at TMVC.  Wondering if this vaccine is for you?  Here are some commonly asked questions and answers:

What is the PCV 13 vaccine?

The PCV 13 vaccine is a vaccine that protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause invasive pneumococcal disease.  The vaccine is approved by Health Canada.

What is pneumococcal infection?

Pneumococcal infection is caused by a germ or bacteria.  It can cause serious and life-threatening infections of the lungs (pneumonia), blood (septicemia), and the lining of the brain (meningitis).  The infection is spread from person-to- person by coughing, sneezing, or having close face-to-face contact. It can also be spread through activities such as sharing food, drinks, cigarettes, lipsticks, water boottles, mouth guards used for sports, or mouthpieces of musical instruments.

Who should get the vaccine?

Pneumococcal immunization is recommended for all individuals 50 years of age and older.  It is also recommended for individuals with certain health concerns and/or medical conditions such as, but not limited to:

  • No spleen, or a spleen that is not working properly
  • Sickle-cell disease
  • Immune systems weakened by disease or medical treatment
  • Chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Chronic kidney, heart or lung disease
  • Solid organ transplants or those waiting for one
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or a chronic cerebrospinal fluid leak
  • An alcohol dependency
  • Homeless persons
  • Users of illicit drugs

Why should I receive Prevnar 13 when a different pneumococcal vaccine is available through public health free of charge?

The pneumococcal polysaccharide (Pneumo23) vaccine is only available free of charge to individuals 65 years of age and older or for individuals 2 years of age and older with certain high risk health conditions (as listed above).  Furthermore, as a conjugate vaccine, PCV 13 has been shown to be significantly more effective (enhanced antibody response & better immune memory) than the publicly funded Pneumo23 vaccine.

Possible Reactions after the Vaccine

Vaccines are very safe.  It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get pneumococcal disease.

Common reactions to Prevnar 13 may include soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site.  Mild fever and headache may also occur.  These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.

Who should not get the vaccine?

  • If you have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose or to any component of the vaccine, including diphtheria toxoid.
  • If you are over 5 years of age and under 50 years of age.  PCV13 is licensed for infants and children aged 6 weeks to 5 years (available free through public health as part of child routine immunization schedule) and adults aged 50 years and older.  PCV13 is available for purchase for adults aged 50 years and older.

If you still have questions or would like to receive the vaccine, please call 604- 681-5656 in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver or 1-888-288-8682 for the rest of BC to make an appointment.