Navigating Pneumococcal Vaccines: A Comprehensive Guide to PCV13, PPSV23, and PCV20

Did you know that pneumonia, also known as lung inflammation, is the third major cause of death in Singapore? Thankfully, pneumococcal vaccines can lower an individual’s risk of contracting this preventable disease. This blog article explains the importance of pneumococcal vaccination, shedding light on the different types of pneumococcal vaccines - PCV13, PPSV23 and PCV20. 

The Importance of Pneumococcal Vaccination

Before we dive into the specifics, let us understand why pneumococcal vaccination is crucial. Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacterium targeted by these vaccines, is one of the leading causes of respiratory infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, sinus and middle-ear infection. This poses a serious health risk, particularly to vulnerable populations, and can lead to severe illnesses and, in some cases, even death. While most healthy individuals recover from pneumonia within weeks, prevention is key as it can be life-threatening especially for the elderly.

Benefits of pneumococcal vaccination:

  • Helps prevent respiratory infections
  • Typically leads to milder symptoms and lower rates of complications if infected (compared to unvaccinated counterparts)
  • Safeguards public health by contributing to herd immunity and limiting the societal spread of respiratory infections
  • Reduces healthcare costs associated with treating preventable diseases

Rest assured, the common side effects of pneumococcal vaccination, like soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, mild headache, body aches or fatigue, and fever, typically disappear within 2 to 3 days.

Who Needs Pneumococcal Vaccination

Contrary to popular belief, the pneumococcal vaccine is not the same as the flu shot — these are distinct vaccines. People who have received the flu shot may still need pneumococcal vaccination, particularly the following groups of individuals:

  • All infants: two doses of PCV13 (at 4 and 6 months of age), with a booster at 12 months, are usually recommended.
  • Elderly: those 65 years and above will typically benefit from one dose each of PCV13 and PPSV23 to enjoy lifetime protection.

However, the aforementioned information is just a general guideline thus a consultation with a General Practitioner (GP) is necessary to determine your suitability for pneumococcal vaccination.

Types of Pneumococcal Vaccination

PCV13: Targeted Protection for 13 Strains

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 13, or PCV13, is a key player in the fight against pneumococcal diseases. With targeted protection against 13 strains of the bacteria, PCV13 is recommended for all age groups, emphasising the importance of comprehensive prevention.

PPSV23: Extensive Coverage for Adults

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine 23, or PPSV23, takes the baton for adults aged 65 and older, offering coverage against 23 strains. This vaccine is particularly important for older individuals, as well as individuals with certain medical conditions.

PCV20: Simplifying Protection with a Single Dose

The latest breakthrough in pneumococcal vaccination is the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 20, or PCV20. What sets it apart? A single-dose regimen designed to cover 20 pneumococcal strains — this vaccine covers seven more bacterial strains than the PCV 13. Moreover, unlike certain existing vaccines like PCV13, only one PCV20 dose is required for optimal protection. According to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases,  PCV20’s broader protection enables it to replace the two existing vaccines (PCV13, and PPSV23) available in Singapore. 

Subsidies for Pneumococcal Vaccine

With government subsidies in place, pneumococcal vaccines are an accessible and cost-effective solution for Singaporeans seeking comprehensive pneumococcal protection. Assure Family Clinic is a CHAS clinic, therefore Singaporeans can enjoy highly subsidised pneumococcal vaccinations. For eligible Singaporeans, MediSave can also be utilised to pay for the remaining cost of pneumococcal vaccinations.

Empowering Health Through Informed Choices

In the dynamic landscape of preventive healthcare, being informed is the first step to empowerment. PCV13 and PPSV23, backed by subsidies, have been important in the fight against pneumococcal diseases. With the arrival of PCV20, we witness a leap toward simplicity and efficiency in vaccination.

Assure Family Clinic offers the pneumococcal vaccinations PCV 20, PCV13, and PPSV 23. Explore the options and make informed choices for the health of you and your loved ones.

For personalised advice regarding pneumococcal vaccination, consult our GP Dr Charis Au. Schedule your pneumococcal vaccination with Assure Family Clinic today!

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1. Singapore first country in Asia to get new pneumococcal vaccine - National Centre for Infectious Diseases. Accessed February 2, 2024.

2. Pneumococcal_disease. Accessed February 2, 2024.

3. Pneumococcal-Vaccine.

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