Confused About the Pneumococcal Vaccine Schedule? You're Not Alone

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


February 16, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

A recent survey[1] found that many primary care clinicians are confused by the pneumococcal vaccine schedule for adults. This might explain the relatively low vaccination rates among older adults and those at high risk for pneumococcal disease.

Well adults aged 65 and older should receive a dose of PCV13 (Prevnar) first, followed 1 year later by a dose of PPSV23 (Pneumovax).

Patients aged 19-64 with conditions like diabetes or chronic heart, lung, or liver disease, as well as adults who smoke or are dependent on alcohol, should receive one dose of Pneumovax. And when they reach age 65, follow the well-adult pneumococcal vaccination schedule.

Those who are immunocompromised—for example, patients with kidney disease, HIV, certain types of cancer, or no spleen—have a more complicated schedule. You can view it online at the CDC website, Pneumococcal Vaccine Timing for Adults.

Check to see if your electronic medical records can provide prompts to help improve pneumococcal vaccination rates.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD


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