Currently there are 90 different known strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae. There is no vaccine that can protect against all of them. However, three vaccines are available to help prevent infection with the most common strains - PCV7, PCV10 and PPS23.
Infection risk in young children especially infants, can be reduced considerably with a vaccine called Prevenar. In several countries around the world this vaccine is administered free for all infants.
Pneumovax 23, another vaccine, helps protect other age groups and protects against some of the most virulent strains of disease in adults.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)
Every child under 2 years of age should routinely receive the PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) as part of their childhood immunization program. In the context of a national immunization schedule, three doses should be sufficient. Outside this context, four doses are recommended.
Most infants get their first dose at the age of 2 to 3 months; the second and third doses are given at one to two months intervals. A booster should be given in the second year of life.
About 10% of children will have some redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as a mild fever - these symptoms usually go away quickly.