Smart Patients Get Smart Care™

The World’s Leading Authority for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients

Ask the Doctor: I need to get a pneumonia shot due to updated medical expert recommendations. I want to proceed, but need to know are there just two options?

This content was current as of the date it was released. In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.


I understand because of “when” I received my Pneumonia shots, I now need to get another shot due to updated medical expert recommendations. I want to proceed. Are there just two options? PCV 13 Prevnar 13 (Pfizer) and PPSV23  Pneumovax 23 (Merck)? I now understand I received Pneumococcal Conjugate 13-Variant, on 2/12/2012 (age 61), and, on 4/14/2017 (age 66) – I am now age 71.

Answer: There are actually three options now.

In June of 2021, the FDA approved a new pneumococcal vaccine capable of protecting against 20 different pneumonia serotypes which are responsible for most cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) and pneumonia in the US. The newest vaccine is called PREVNAR 20 and includes an additional seven pneumonia serotypes (hence the name now being PREVNAR 20 instead of PREVNAR 13), which are responsible for just under half of all US cases of pneumococcal disease and related deaths.

More than 6000 vaccine-naive adults, as well as adults with prior pneumococcal vaccination, participated in the trials. Prior to the most recent approval of PREVNAR 20, the only available pneumococcal vaccines were the two you mentioned below. The seven additional pneumonia serotypes that were added all have patterns of antibiotic resistance and disease severity. And overall, the seven additional serotypes in PREVNAR20 account for up to 40% of all pneumococcal disease cases and deaths in the US.

Since pneumonia infections are a big problem for those who are immunocompromised with CLL, we recommend talking with your CLL expert physician regarding how to get PREVNAR20. We have heard reports anecdotally from those in our community that this particular vaccination isn’t yet widely available at the better-known pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS. However, many have had success by calling around to their local smaller pharmacies. You might just have to do some searching for it, but it is out there and available.