Pneumococcal Vaccination for Senior Citizens – Always, Never, Sometimes?

german translation / full article

Andreas Sönnichsen


A sixty-year-old healthy man asks about pneumococcal vaccination during a consultation with his family practitioner. His doctor is not convinced whether he should follow the recommendation of the German STIKO to vaccinate everybody older than 60 years. Is there new evidence about the benefit or risk of pneumococcal vaccination for healthy people over 60? Is there any indication at all for this vaccination based on sound evidence from clinical trials?


Evidence from clinical studies points out that independently from the vaccine used (PCV13 [Prevenar 13®] or PPSV23 [Pneumovax 23®]) the pneumococcal vaccination has no effect on the risk for pneumonia and does not reduce mortality. There is reliable evidence, however, that the vaccination prevents invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal pneumonias caused by serotypes represented in the vaccine, but the number needed to vaccinate (NNV) is high. As adverse effects of the vaccination are quite common, even though of less serious nature most of the times, the decision to vaccinate should be made on an individual basis taking patient preferences into account.

(State: 15.04.2016)

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