Pneumonia Vaccinations – Prevnar / Pneumovax

Authors experiences Health

When I turned 65, my family doctor recommended that I get the “Prevnar” Pneumonia vaccination, to help protect me from Pneumonia related problems in old age. This article reviews the THREE choices.

I learned that there is a Prevnar 13 and Prevnar 20, where the number relates to the number of individual “strains” of Pneumonia viruses that it protects you from. So in my world, more is better! Apparently infants can be given the Prevnar 13, but not the 20. But the Province of Nova Scotia does not cover the Prevnar 20 for free ☹️

Then I learned there is a Pneumovax 23 (bigger number sounds better to me), which is “free” in our province of Nova Scotia for 65+ year olds! But hold on, there is a difference, as per this snippit from Government of Canada (link) which suggests you may need subsequent shots after 5 years, although it covers 19 of the strains in Prevnar 20.

Government of Canada info:
Prevnar®20 and Vaxneuvance® (as well as Prevnar®13) are known as pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. They trigger the immune system in a different way than Pneumovax®23, which is known as a polysaccharide vaccine. Conjugate vaccines offer more durable and longer lasting protection than polysaccharide vaccines.

So, which is better, Pneumovax 23 or Prevnar 20?

Pharmacy Link
One dose of Pneumovax 23 protects about 60% to 70% of healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease. Prevnar 20 is thought to provide better protection for the strains it covers than Prevnar 23.


I opted for the Pneumovax 23, mostly since it was free and covered a lot. Apparently in a year I could get a Prevnar 13 shot if I want, to maximize the coverage. Note that I am NOT a medically trained health professional, and you should take your advice from your appropriate professionals. Just summarizing my current understanding for those who care.


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Update on the use of pneumococcal vaccines in adults 65 years of age and older – A Public Health Perspective –

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