Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV

The vaccine prevents meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and middle-ear infections caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
Vaccine-preventable diseases

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To whom is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine administered?

As part of the national vaccination programme, the PCV10 vaccine (Synflorix) is offered to all children aged under 5 years.

The PCV13 vaccine (Prevenar 13) is offered as part of the national vaccination programme to stem cell transplant recipients. 

The PCV 13 vaccine (Prevenar) is recommended for 

  • children aged 5 years and over 
  • adults who, because of their illness or medication, are particularly susceptible to serious pneumococcal infections or complications associated with them.

These vaccinations are paid for either by the treatment provider or the recipient.

  • At the physician's discretion, the vaccine can also be administered to recipients aged 65 and over
  • children aged over 5 years who are not in an at-risk group and working-age adults.

Which vaccine is used and what does it contain?

Synflorix vaccine (PCV10) is used in the vaccination programme.

  • The vaccine does not contain live pathogens.
  • The active substance is polysaccharides derived from 10 different types of pneumococcal bacteria with carrier proteins.
  • The adjuvant is an aluminium compound.
  • The excipients are salt and purified water.
  • The vaccine contains no preservatives.

Dosage and schedule

The vaccine dose is 0.5 ml.

More information on the administration schedule is provided in connection with the national vaccination programme and pneumococcal vaccinations for at-risk groups.

What are the contraindications and precautions associated with the vaccine?

The vaccine may not be administered to a person who has had a confirmed serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) following a previous dose of a PCV vaccine or a vaccine containing similar components.

The vaccination should be postponed if the recipient has a fever or a febrile infection.

What are the benefits of pneumococcal conjugate vaccinations?

Research in Finland and other countries has shown that in young children, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine reduces

  • the incidence of pneumococcal meningitis and sepsis by approx. 80%
  • the incidence of serious pneumonia by approx. 25%
  • all middle ear infections by at least six per cent
  • the need for middle ear tubulation
  • the use of antimicrobial treatments.

As vaccinations reduce the number of infections, the incidence of pneumococcal diseases caused by the serotypes contained in the vaccine also declines in the unvaccinated population. This has been the case in Finland and in other countries. On the other hand, the numbers of diseases caused by serotypes not contained in the vaccine increase.

What are the potential adverse effects of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine?

Local reactions at the injection site are rather common.

Short-lived local symptoms include redness, burning, swelling, pain or a rash. Up to one quarter of the recipients develop some of these symptoms. 

Local symptoms are the most common following the second or third vaccine dose. While mild in most cases, the local reactions may also be widespread. 

Transient generalised symptoms may also occur, such as irritability and fever.

Local and generalised symptoms are not a contraindication for further vaccinations. Fever and pain medications may be used to treat the symptoms.

History of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the vaccination programme

Pneumococcal vaccinations for children aged under 5 years in at-risk groups were introduced as part of the national vaccination programme in 2009. 

Universal pneumococcal vaccinations for young children were added to the national vaccination programme in autumn 2010 and have been administered to children born on or after 1 June 2010.