Pneumococcal Vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine protects you against pneumococcal infections, which can be dangerous and potentially fatal. It is sometimes called the ‘pneumo jab’ or the pneumonia vaccine.

There are two different types of the vaccine:

  • the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) - £70
  • the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) - £30

Your nurse or pharmacist will recommend the most suitable vaccine for you based on your age, health and preference.

We offer the pneumococcal vaccination for patients over the age of two.

Pneumococcal infections are caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The infections can lead to illnesses such as:

  • pneumonia (lung infection)
  • ear infection
  • meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord)
  • septicaemia (a type of blood poisoning)
  • sinus infections
Severe infections cause brain damage, or even death.

Although pneumonia is more likely to severely affect patients under 2 and over 65 as well as those with long term health conditions, pneumonia can affect anyone.

The vaccine protects you against pneumococcal infections and the complications it can cause.
Anyone can get a pneumococcal infection, but not everyone is offered the pneumococcal for free vaccine on the NHS. 

Those who are at high risk and get the pneumococcal vaccine on the NHS, are:

  • babies under 2 years old
  • adults over 65 years old
  • people with long-term health conditions, like chronic kidney or heart disease 
Not everyone can have the pneumococcal vaccine.

You can’t have it if you:

  • have a vaccine allergy
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have a fever or temperature at the time of your appointment

The pneumococcal vaccine works by making your body produce antibodies that fight pneumococcal bacteria. Antibodies destroy organisms or bacteria carrying disease, and help fight off infections.

The NHS estimates that the pneumococcal vaccine is between 50-70% effective in preventing pneumococcal disease.
It isn’t possible to catch a pneumococcal infection from the vaccine, because it doesn’t contain any live bacteria. It is a very safe vaccine, but like all vaccinations, it can cause some side effects.

Common side effects of the PCV vaccine include:
  • swelling, hardness or redness where the injection was given
  • slightly decreased appetite
  • somewhat higher temperature
  • trouble sleeping, and sleepiness
Serious side effects (which are rare) of the PCV vaccine include:
  • allergic skin rash
  • very high temperature, sometimes leading to convulsions (febrile seizures)
The PPV vaccine has some common side effects:
  • mild pain or hardness where the injection was made (1-3 days)
  • somewhat higher temperature
The only serious side effect of the PPV vaccine is an allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions are very rare, and happen within a few minutes of the injection. Anyone who is given either vaccine is fully supervised in case this happens, so that it can be treated with adrenaline straight away.

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