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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z Pneumococcal Disease Guidelines ›  Frequently Asked Questions About Pneumococcal Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions About Pneumococcal Vaccine

 

What Pneumococcal vaccines are available?

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine available in the UK

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

The 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is currently recommended for all adults over 65 years of age and those at-risk over 2 years of age. The vaccine provides protection against 23 types (or serotypes) of pneumococcal bacteria. This covers over 90% of the pneumococcal isolates that cause serious disease in the UK. Serotypes contained in PPV are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6B, 7F, 8, 9N, 9V,10A, 11A, 12F, 14, 15B, 17F, 18C, 19F, 19A, 20, 22F, 23F, 33F

At-risk children should be offered the PPV when they reach the age of 2 years.

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) contains the 13 most common serotypes of pneumococcal bacteria. Initially PCV7 contained 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, 23F and when replaced by PCV13 the vaccine contained the additional six serotypes 6A, 19A, 3, 1, 5 and 7F.

In September 2006, PCV7 was introduced as part of the Childhood Immunisation programme. In April 2010 PCV13 replaced PCV7 in the schedule for the routine immunistion programme. In addition, all at-risk children should be offered a single dose of PPV when they are two years of age.

The vaccine is also recommended for children from two months to under 5 years of age falling into one of the recommended risk groups. All at-risk children should be offered PCV in the schedule for the routine immunisation programme. In addition, all at-risk children should be offered a single dose of PPV when they are two years of age.

More details of the vaccines are available in the revised chapter on pneumococcal disaese in the Green book [external link].

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Who needs pneumococcal vaccine?

The objective of the pneumococcal immunisation programme is to protect all those for whom pneumococcal infection is likely to be more common or more serious.

This includes two groups:

 

All over 65 years of age

A single dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is recommended by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for all those aged 65 and over.

All those aged two months to under two years of age (Changes to the Routine Childhood Immunisation)

On 12 July 2006, the CMO announced changes to the Childhood Immunisation Programme would be effective as of 4th September 2006. These changes include universal infant immunisation with PCV. From September onwards, children should be offered the PCV at two months, four months and 13 months.

For more information, please see:

 

Children and adults faling into a clinical risk group 

Since 1992 PPV has been recommended for people who fall into a group at higher risk of  invasive pneumococcal disease. Currently this includes all persons aged from two to 65 years of age with;

  • Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Chronic heart disease
  • Chronic renal disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppression
  • Individuals with cochlear implants

More detailed information regarding these recommendations are available in the Guidelines  section of the PHE website and from the revised chapter on pneumococcal disease in the Green Book [external link].

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How often should adults receive the PPV vaccine?

It is currently recommended that most adults will need only one dose of PPV in their lifetime. Revaccination every five years is only recommended for those groups whose antibody levels are likely to decline. This includes those with splenic dysfunction or chronic renal disease.

Further details are available in the the revised chapter on pneumococcal disease in the Green book [external link].

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Is it safe to have the Pneumococcal vaccine at the same time as the annual influenza jab?

 Yes. In fact co-administration of the 2 vaccines is advocated

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Are there any adverse reactions?

PPV - Mild soreness can occur at the site of injection lasting one to three days and less commonly a low-grade fever may occur. More severe systemic reactions are rare.

PCV - swelling and redness at the injection site and low-grade fever are the most commonly reported adverse reactions.

Further details are available in the the revised chapter on pneumococcal disease in the Green book [external link].

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Is it possible to get the disease from the vaccine?

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) are inactivated and do not contain any live organisms. They cannot cause the disease against which they protect.

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Is there anyone who should not be vaccinated?

There are very few persons who cannot receive the pneumococcal vaccines. The vaccines should not be given to anyone who has had:

- A confirmed anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.

- A confirmed anaphylactic reaction to any component of the vaccine.

Further details are available in the the revised chapter on pneumococcal disease in the Green book [external link].

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Last reviewed: 14 January 2014