What are pneumococcal vaccines?
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines:
- The pneumococcal conjugate (PCV 13) vaccine that protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
- The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine that protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
The type of vaccine recommended depends on a person's age and risk factors.
Who should get the pneumococcal vaccine?
- This vaccine is provided free to children as part of their routine immunizations. It is given as a series of three doses. The first dose is given at 2 months of age, the second at 4 months, and the third at 12 months. An extra dose is given at 6 months to children at high risk for pneumococcal disease.
- This vaccine is also recommended and free for some people 5 years of age and older with certain medical conditions that put them at high risk of pneumococcal disease.
Some people are at high risk of getting sick from pneumococcal infections. This vaccine is provided free to these people, including:
- Seniors 65 years and older.
- Residents of any age living in residential care or assisted living facilities.
- This vaccine is also provided free to people 2 years of age and older who have certain medical conditions or lifestyle factors that put them at high risk for pneumococcal disease.
- A 2nd dose of vaccine is recommended for people with certain medical conditions. Speak with your health care provider to find out if a second dose is needed and when to get it.
Click on the vaccine name for information in different languages.
What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?
Vaccination is the best way to protect against pneumococcal infection, a serious disease that sometimes causes death. When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect others too.
What are the side effects?
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get pneumococcal disease.
Many people have no side effects from the vaccines. For those that do, side effects are usually mild and last 1 to 2 days (see a list of common side effects for each vaccine below). Serious side effects are very rare.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. The chance of true anaphylaxis is about 1 in 1 million vaccine doses. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Learn more about anaphylaxis on our vaccine side effects page.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your immunizing health care provider.
Common side effects may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Some may also have fever, drowsiness, crankiness, loss of appetite, headache, muscle or joint ache, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.
Common side effects may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Fever may also occur. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.
Where can Iearn more?
- Click on the vaccine name above to read the HealthLink BC File.
- Talk to your immunizing health care provider.
About pneumococcal infection
- Pneumococcal infection is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
- The bacteria can cause serious and life-threatening infections such as meningitis (an infection of the lining that covers the brain), septicemia (an infection of the blood), and pneumonia (an infection of the lungs).
- Permanent complications of meningitis include brain damage and deafness.
- For every 4 children who get sick with pneumococcal meningitis, 1 may die.
- Pneumococcal infection is spread from one person to another by coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact. It can also be spread through saliva (spit) when people share food or drinks. Babies and children can become sick through sharing soothers, bottles or toys used by other children.