The Pneumococcal Vaccine can also be known as the ‘pneumo jab’. It’s an important vaccination to have, it protects the body against serious and sometimes fatal pneumococcal infections.
If left untreated pneumococcal infections can be very dangerous, this is why the NHS recommends vaccines for all babies.
Typically, Pneumococcal infections can lead to pneumonia, septicemia that is a kind of blood poisoning and meningitis. In some cases, it can even cause permanent brain damage or death. In the United Kingdom there’s two different types of pneumococcal vaccines available, these are generally given depending on the age and health of the person.
The two types are:
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) – This vaccine is usually given to children under two years of age. It’s normally used on the NHS as standard and is part of the National Health Service’s ‘childhood vaccination programme’. It’s ‘brand name’ is called Prevenar 13.
Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPV) – This type of injection is given to people over the age of 65. It’s also given to people who are regarded as ‘high risk’ due to a long-term medical condition.
When is the Pneumococcal Vaccine Given?
We first get the pneumococcal vaccine at 8 weeks old, this is then followed by another injection at 16 weeks, and a third at one year old. These three separate injections are an important vaccination for babies to have. Sometimes they can also be given at the same time as other vaccines.
The pneumococcal vaccine is also available for people over the age of 65, however they require just one single injection rather than the three injections a baby needs.
This single injection is not needed on an ‘annual basis’ like the common flu jab, it’s only required once over the age of 65.
Equally some Doctors will recommend that people with long-term medical conditions may need ‘booster’ jabs. This varies depending on the health problem; so if you think this might apply in your situation, please speak to your local GP.
Who Shouldn’t Have the Vaccination?
Generally, it’s recommended to ‘delay’ the vaccination, or in some cases avoid it altogether on advice from your Doctor. People who suffer from the following should consult professional medical guidance before having the Pneumococcal Vaccine.
• Allergy Reactions – Unfortunately allergies can occur with many different types of vaccines. If you or your child has had an allergic reaction to vaccinations in the past, you will need to inform your Doctor or the Nurse before having the vaccine. Only a professionally trained Doctor will be able to recommend whether you or your child can have the vaccination or not.
• Fever – In most cases, it’s recommended to ‘delay’ the vaccination if you or your child as a fever or is feeling unwell at the time of the vaccination appointment.
• Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Generally it’s thought that the vaccine is ‘safe’ during pregnant and while breastfeeding. However as a ‘precaution’ some Doctors recommend to wait until the baby has been born. As every situation is different, please get professional medical advice if this applies to you.
How Does the Pneumococcal Vaccine Work?
As there’s two different types of vaccines available in Britain, they both work in a similar manner. After the vaccination has been given, it ‘naturally’ encourages the body to create antibodies against the Pneumococcal bacteria.
The vaccines don’t contain any ‘live’ bacteria, this means you won’t be given a small dose of the disease. Even though there’s around 90 different ‘strains’ of the Pneumococcal infection, the vaccination is thought to be around 50-70% effective.
The vaccination children are given (PCV) protects against 13 strains, while the adult vaccination (PPV) protects against 23 strains. To find out more about the Pneumococcal Vaccination, please speak to a professional medical specialist such as your Doctor.
Side Effects of the Pneumo Jab
The Pneumo Jab unfortunately does have some side effects, however this is generally the case with most vaccinations.
‘Mild’ side effects can include:
• Redness at the site of the injection
• Swelling or hardness at the site of the injection
• Increased Temperature
• Tired / Sleepy
• Irritability (particularly in babies)
Sometimes there are no side effects at all, other times a small number of children and adults can have ‘severe’ side effects, however this is rare.
Very occasionally a child or adult could have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccination. This is medically known as a ‘anaphylactic reaction’ – this will cause breathing difficulties and requires urgent medical assistance.
Typically this reaction usually occurs ‘within minutes’ of the injection, the Doctor or nurse who administrated the injection will be trained to deal with the situation. Once treatment has been given the child or adult will make a complete recovery and should have no ‘lasting’ effects.
Remember that this page has been created as a guide only. It does not replace professional medical advice, opinion, treatment or assistance from a Doctor or Nurse. Equally we cannot be held responsible or liable under any circumstance.