Difference between PCV 13 and PPSV 23

The diseases caused by the bacteria Streptomyces pneumoniae are referred to as pneumococcal diseases. It attacks different parts of the body causing different diseases. When it invades the lungs, it causes pneumonia. When it invades the brain, it causes meningitis. When it invades the blood, it causes bacteremia. And when it invades ears, it causes ear infection.

Pneumococcal diseases are a serious threat and often require medical attention. There are several vaccines that provide immunity against these varieties of diseases. Let us throw some light at two of those vaccines.

PCV 13

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13 (PCV 13) is a subunit vaccine. A subunit vaccine is the one that combines a weak antigen with a strong antigen for a greater immune response against the weak antigen.

The PCV 13 vaccine protects against 13 pneumococcal bacteria causing diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis. This vaccine can be used in routine immunisations for children, adults as well as people over 65 years of age. The dosage for the same should be discussed with a healthcare provider first.

There are many brands that sell this vaccine in the form of injections. Example: Pneumosil by the Serum Institute of India, Prevnar 13 by Pfizer, Synflorix by GlaxoSmithKline, etc.


Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine 23 (PPSV 23) is the first pneumococcal vaccine to be discovered. Immunisation with PPSV 23 is recommended for children or adults with serious threats, and not in routine vaccination schedules.

It protects against 23 species of pneumococcal disease causing bacteria. It is a polysaccharide vaccine comprising a purified capsular polysaccharide antigen from the bacteria.

PCV 13 vs. PPSV 23

PCV 13



It stands for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 13 (PCV 13).

It stands for pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine 23 (PPSV23)

Protects Against

It protects against 13 species of bacteria that cause pneumococcal diseases.

It protects against 23 species of bacteria that cause pneumococcal diseases.

Vaccination Frequency

It can be administered in routine immunisation by both children and adults.

It should only be injected in children or adults who face serious threat against pneumococcal diseases.

Side Effect

Redness, pain and swelling around the vaccinated area. Fever, fatigue and muscle pain are other associated side effects.

Very mild side effects, such as local reactions, muscle ache and fever.

Commercialised Example

Prevnar 13

Pneumovax 23


It is injected into the muscles.

It can be injected to the muscles or subcutaneously.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Should you get Both Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23?

The Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practises (ACIP) recommends a gap of at least one year between the two doses. Prevnar 13 should be taken as the first dose and Pneumovax 23 as the second dose in individuals upto 65 years of age.


What if the PCV vaccine is missed?

If a PCV vaccine is missed in a child’s vaccination calendar, the parents should discuss with their doctors to take the dose as soon as possible.


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