Vaccinations

Pneumococcal vaccine side effects

The pneumococcal vaccine is very safe, although like all vaccinations it has some side effects.

It is not possible to catch a pneumococcal infection from the vaccine, because the vaccine doesn't contain any live bacteria.

Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine in babies

Mild side effects of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which is the type of pneumo jab given to babies under two include:

  • decreased appetite
  • a slightly raised temperature
  • irritability
  • redness at the site of the injection
  • hardness or swelling at the site of the injection
  • feeling sleepy
  • not sleeping well

More serious side effects of the baby pneumo jab are rare and include:

Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine in adults and older children

Mild side effects of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) - the type of pneumo jab given to adults and children over the age of two include:

  • mild soreness or hardness at the site of the injection lasting one to three days
  • a slightly raised temperature

There are no serious side effects of the PPV version of the pneumo jab apart from serious allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions to the pneumo jab

Very occasionally, a child or adult may have a serious allergic reaction after either type of pneumococcal vaccination.

Known as an anaphylactic reaction, this can cause life-threatening breathing difficulties and collapse. Anaphylaxis is a serious side effect that happens within minutes of the injection. It's very alarming at the time, but it can be completely treated with adrenaline.

The doctor or nurse giving the vaccine will have been trained to know how to treat anaphylactic reactions and, provided they receive treatment promptly, children and adults make a complete recovery.

Between 1997 and 2003 there were 130 vaccine-related anaphylactic reactions in the UK, making the overall rate one in 900,000 (or slightly more than one in a million). All of these people survived.

If you notice any unusual symptoms in your baby or yourself after being vaccinated, call your GP.

To find out more, read Vaccine safety and side effects.

Reporting side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine that you are taking. It's run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). See the Yellow Card Scheme website for more information.

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect.

Page last reviewed: 26/03/2014

Next review due: 26/03/2016

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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

PeteThePen said on 12 October 2014

My wife, who has progressive MS, had the Pneumonia Jab yesterday along with the 'flu jab. Today she is feeling very tired and her balance is very poor. She feels very much unlike her usual self. She is regretting her decision to have the jab.

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Kathryn at NHS Choices said on 14 August 2013

Dear burtoncle,
There are no serious side effects specifically listed for the adult version of the pneumococcal vaccine apart from an extremely small risk of a serious allergic reaction. I've amended the article to include information on this.
Thanks,
Kathryn Bingham, NHS Choices editor

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burtoncle said on 23 July 2013

As I am having an this vaccination today I wanted to know what the serious side effects were
The website doesn't mention what they are.
On this occasion the site was of no use

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