Effectiveness of pneumococcal vaccines in preventing pneumonia in adults, a systematic review and meta-analyses of observational studies

PLoS One. 2017 May 23;12(5):e0177985. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177985. eCollection 2017.


Introduction: S. pneumoniae can cause a wide spectrum of diseases, including invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumonia. Two types of pneumococcal vaccines are indicated for use in adults: 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines (PPV23) and a 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13).

Objective: To systematically review the literature assessing pneumococcal vaccine effectiveness (VE) against community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in adults among the general population, the immunocompromised and subjects with underlying risk factors in real-world settings.

Methods: We searched for peer-reviewed observational studies published between 1980 and 2015 in Pubmed, SciELO or LILACS, with pneumococcal VE estimates against CAP, pneumococcal CAP or nonbacteremic pneumococcal CAP. Meta-analyses and meta-regression for VE against CAP requiring hospitalization in the general population was performed.

Results: 1159 unique articles were retrieved of which 33 were included. No studies evaluating PCV13 effectiveness were found. Wide ranges in PPV23 effectiveness estimates for any-CAP were observed among adults ≥65 years (-143% to 60%). The meta-analyzed VE estimate for any-CAP requiring hospitalization in the general population was 10.2% (95%CI: -12.6; 33.0). The meta-regression indicates that VE against any-CAP requiring hospitalization is significantly lower in studies with a maximum time since vaccination ≥60 months vs. <60 months and in countries with the pediatric PCV vaccine available on the private market. However, these results should be interpreted cautiously due to the high influence of two studies. The VE estimates for pneumococcal CAP hospitalization ranged from 32% (95%CI: -18; 61) to 51% (95%CI: 16; 71) in the general population.

Conclusions: Wide ranges in PPV23 effectiveness estimates for any-CAP were observed, likely due to a great diversity of study populations, circulation of S. pneumoniae serotypes, coverage of pediatric pneumococcal vaccination, case definition and time since vaccination. Despite some evidence for short-term protection, effectiveness of PPV23 against CAP was not consistent in the general population, the immunocompromised and subjects with underlying risk factors.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines*
  • Pneumonia, Pneumococcal / prevention & control*


  • Pneumococcal Vaccines

Grant support

The study was funded by Pfizer, Paris, France. The funder provided support in the form of salaries for Pfizer authors (MTTH, JS, RRR) and consulting fees under a service contract with the commercial company P95 Epidemiology and Pharmacovigilance Consulting and Services (ALS, GF, KB, TV). Authors from University of Genoa (CA, CP, CT, FA) were not funded by Pfizer nor by P95 for their contributions. The specific roles of the authors, including the Pfizer authors, are described in the ‘author contributions’ section. Pfizer authors contributed to the protocol, analysis and interpretation of the results. The authors take full responsibility for the content of this article.