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Preventive MedicinePrimary Care

Prevnar: Additional Pneumonia Vaccine

By November 30, 2014February 21st, 2020No Comments
Pneumonia on CT scan

Pneumonia on CT scan

Everyone over 65 has already received Pneumovax, the original vaccine against pneumonia, at least once. If you are older (say, many grandchildren), I may have already given you a booster. But there is now a new recommended additional vaccine that improves the protection we can give older patients against pneumococcal pneumonia, which is both prevalent and dangerous. The new vaccine is named Prevnar. We began administering it this fall.

Differences Between Prevnar and Pneumovax

The original vaccine, Pneumovax, contains antibodies against 23 different strains of strep pneumonia, the germ that causes lobar pneumonia. But it misses two strains that are common and dangerous. Prevnar contains antibodies to those two uncovered bacterial strains as well as antibodies to 11 strains also covered by Pneumovax.

There is public health consensus that, if possible, Prevnar be given first to every person at age 65, and then followed 6-12 months later by Pneumonax. For those of you who have already had Pneumovax, we will get you the Prevnar as well, but it must wait 12 months after the last Pneumovax dose.


Prevnar is supposed to be covered by Medicare and other health insurers, allowing for possible deductibles or copays in various policies. It is moderately expensive, as are most new vaccines.

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