What does the pneumococcal vaccine protect against?

The pneumococcal vaccination provides protection against infections caused by bacteria called pneumococcus. These infections are called pneumococcal infections.

There are many different types of pneumococcus bacterium. Examples of the infections they can cause include:

Pneumococcal disease is a term used to describe infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus).

Groups of people at risk from pneumococcal infections

Some groups of people have a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection developing into a serious health condition, including:

  • children under two
  • adults aged 65 or over
  • children and adults with some chronic (long-term) health conditions

These groups of people need to be vaccinated against pneumococcal infections.

Pneumococcal vaccine

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine:

  • pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) – given to all children aged two months to under two years old as part of the childhood vaccination programme
  • pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) – given to people aged 65 or over and people at increased risk

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 

Read the answers to more questions about vaccinations.

Further information:

Meningitis real story

Tracey Chambers talks about the effects of meningitis on her daughter Courteney. Meningitis is an infection that can lead to serious damage to the nerves and brain. If you think your child has symptoms of meningitis, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015

Page last reviewed: 20/09/2013

Next review due: 19/09/2015