Pneumonia, the Prevnar 13® Vaccine and Warfarin

Publication Date: 
Fri, 01/01/2016
By: Alere Staff

Unlike a normal virus like the cold or flu, pneumococcal pneumonia (lung infection) is caused by bacteria and can spread through the air from a cough or sneeze of an infected person. The symptoms can appear quickly and are severe with the possibility of lasting for weeks even after a patient has received treatment.Adults 50 years and older are a group that has an increased risk for contracting pneumococcal pneumonia. Even older patients who may have an immune system that cannot respond as quickly to the infection are more at risk. Some of the common symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include chest pain, difficulty breathing, fatigue, cough, high fever, shaking, chills and excessive sweating.1 From there, the bacteria can infect the sinuses and inner ear. In more severe cases, the infection can spread to the lungs, blood and brain with the potential to become fatal.2

Vaccinations are recommended for children under two years of age, adults 65 years and older and adults of any age with certain conditions that weaken their immune system. In adults with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PVC13) there was an efficacy of 45% and above for preventing instances of pneumonia.3

The Prevnar 13® Vaccine and Warfarin

The Prevnar 13® vaccine is one of the commonly used pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.  Approved by the FDA, the Prevnar 13® vaccine is a single injection vaccine to help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia caused by 13 different strains of the bacteria, Streptococcus pneumonia.1 Some of the common side effects from the vaccine include injection site redness, swelling, pain and limitation of arm movement. Some other side effects that were felt during the trials included fatigue, rash, muscle, headache and chills.These immune responses were reduced when given the injected flu vaccine.3

It is recommended to advise your physician if you have a bleeding or blood clotting disorder, easy bruising or weak immune system caused by a disease or sickness before getting the vaccine, even though there is no specific interaction known to warfarin.2

It has been estimated that between 4,500 and 6,500 people in the United States die from pneumococcal pneumonia each year.4 If you have not yet been vaccinated, be sure to ask about this vaccine.


  1. Pfizer Inc. Prevnar 13. 11/2015. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. Retrieved from the website:
  2. Prevnar 13: What is Prevnar 13? 2015. Retrieved December 17, 2015 from the website:
  3. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. Highlights of Prescribing Information: PREVNAR 13 (Pneumococcal 13-valent Conjugate Vaccine [Diphtheria CRM197Protein]) [Package Insert]. Revised 6/2015.
  4. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Illness. Pneumococcal Vaccination. June 19, 2015. Retrieved from the website: