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

Soozanne said on 15 November 2015

I'm relieved to read that others have experienced exactly the same symptoms as me in reaction to the pneumonia jab. I was offered it at the same time as the flu jab and as I've never had any side effects from the flu one, I thought nothing of it. Later that day, my left arm where I'd had the injection started to become very painful and the glands on the left side of my neck became swollen and very tender. I also developed a mild fever, felt very achy, fatigued, nauseous and had no appetite. That was four days ago and while I continue to improve (my glands have gone down, no more fever and energy levels have returned), my left arm is still tender, I still have a saucer-shaped red patch on the arm and although I'm eating, I continue to feel nauseous which is horrible. I wish more was known about the side effects of the jab or that the nurse had warned me. Perhaps it only affects people with certain conditions (I have relapsing remitting MS) but either way, if I'd known before, I would never have got the pneumonia jab.

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Luntlee said on 01 November 2015

My husband had the flu and pneumonia jab at the same time. The next night he had a temperature of 40.4, was shivering uncontrollably, felt nauseous, had weakness in his legs, shortness of breath and ached all over. We had to see the out of hours doctor at 2 am who advised paracetamol and ibuprofen. Since then the injection site has developed a bright red patch around it the size of a saucer. These symptoms have been going on for 2 days now. Not sure if it's due to both injections beings done at the same time or just a reaction to the pneumonia jab.

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Becca1982star said on 24 April 2015

Consider before having this vaccine.
I was offered this vaccine as I left the doctor surgery because I have asthma. It was my own fault really as I didn't ask about the side effects.

Side effects I have experienced:
Soar arm for three days (standard think TB jab)
Lump under arm pit - swollen gland
Shortness of breath
Pains in chest
Developed lump in breast during this time - I'm sure this isn't related but I thought I would mention it in case anyone else has had this. This is still being investigated

The last four symptoms have been ongoing since the jab and I'm entering my third week.

I presume I am a rare case, but I wish I had never had the jab. Looking back on it I have mild asthma and after looking in to it I am more a low risk than higher.

Has anyone else had the above symptoms? Lump in the breast is most worrying of course.

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diana g said on 16 March 2015

Like other comments I have also had a serious reaction to the Pneumoccocal vaccination.I was feeling well at the time, but the same evening I started to feel nauseous which increased to weakness and shaking for several days. This created a lot of anxiety and digestive problems for me. Doctors think that my immune system must have already been low.

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Liz63 said on 27 February 2015

I recently had the pneumonia vaccine offered me on a standard appointment regarding my rheumatoid arthritis ,
On her advice I agreed.
However I was not told was how ill I could be and without this info I went to work, I suffered terrible fatigue,muscle aches in every part of my body,headaches and general sickness,
fortunately my colleagues are my friends too or my job could of been compromised. I know you cannot for see all reactions but I do feel a warning should be a part of this process
I drive to work and the injection immobilised my left arm too.
Liz Lancashire

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blesscon said on 08 November 2014

So pleased others are feeling the same as me. Really nauseous, living on paracetamol, feeling weak and listless. Had the flu and pneumonia jabs at the same time. Perhaps that is the problem. Hubby had the same and is feeling great!

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Crazylady63 said on 29 October 2014

I was just wondering if there is any connection to this vaccine and Gillian barre syndrome as I know there is a small connection with the flu jab

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Billy67 said on 26 October 2014

I had the pneumonia jab yesterday...... Oh my gosh, the pain is excruciating, loss of appetite and feeling nauseous. Taking regular pain relief and getting a little effect..... I wish I had never agreed. I have the flu jab every year without problems.

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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.
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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