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, as 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 version of the pneumococcal vaccine given to babies under the age of 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 PCV vaccine 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 version of the pneumococcal vaccine 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 a serious allergic reaction.

What to do if your child is unwell after pneumococcal vaccination

Most common side effects in babies and young children, such as swelling or redness at the injection site, usually pass within a couple of days and you don't need to do anything about them.

If your child develops a fever, keep them cool. Make sure they don't wear too many layers of clothes or blankets, and give them cool drinks.

You can also give them a dose of infant paracetamol or ibuprofen liquid according to the instructions on the bottle.

Read an NHS leaflet about the common side effects of vaccination that may occur in babies and children (PDF, 118kb) under the age of five, and how to treat them.

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 treated with adrenaline.

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

Call your GP if you notice any unusual symptoms in your baby or yourself after being vaccinated.

Read about vaccine safety and side effects to find out more.

Reporting side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you're 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: 29/02/2016
Next review due: 10/02/2019