An updated version of the Prevnar vaccine that can protect children against more types of pneumoccocal bacteria that cause serious infections has been approved. Prevnar 13 is now replacing the older Prevnar 7 vaccine that has been given to kids for the past ten years.
The new version of Prevnar can protect kids against 13 subtypes of Strepococcus pneumoniae bacteria that cause invasive pneumococcal disease, including meningitis, pneumonia, and other serious infections, and against ear infections. Prevnar 7 only covers 7 subtypes of pneumococcal bacteria.
If your child is just starting the four dose Prevnar series, then you won't notice any difference, as he will simply get this new Prevnar 13 vaccine as a part of his routine immunizations at two, four, and six months, and with a booster dose at 12 to 15 months. Older infants and toddlers who have already received one or more doses of Prevnar 7 will complete the series with Prevnar 13.
A single dose of Prevnar 13 is also recommended for all children between the ages of 14 and 59 months who have already completed their Prevnar 7 series and through 71 months if they have a chronic medical condition that puts them at high risk for pneumoccocal infections, such as chronic heart or lung disease. Children at the highest risk for invasive pneumococcal disease, such as those with HIV or sickle cell disease, should get at least one dose of Prevnar 13 before they turn 18 years old. This is in addition to the pneumovax vaccine.