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Immunization

Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PNEUMO-P) vaccine

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​​​​​​​​​​Immunization protects you from disease.
​​Get protected, get immunized.

  • Vaccines make your immune system stronger. They build antibodies to help prevent diseases.
  • Immunization is safe. It's much safer to get immunized than to get this disease.​

What is the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

The PNEUMO-P vaccine protects against 23 strains (types) of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae that cause pneumococcal disease. Over 90% of pneumococcal disease is caused by these 23 strains.

Who should have the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

You should get the PNEUMO-P vaccine if you:

  • are age 65 years or older
  • live in a long-term care facility
  • are between the ages of 2 years and 64 years and have a high risk of serious pneumococcal disease because of health problems, such as heart, lung, kidney, or liver problems, diabetes, or a weak immune system
  • have other risks such as homelessness

How many doses do I need?

Healthy people age 65 years or older need 1 dose.

If you have certain health problems, you may need 1 or 2 doses of this vaccine at an earlier age. Check with your healthcare provider to find out if you need doses at an earlier age and how many.

You still need a dose when you turn age 65 years, even if you already had the vaccine.

Are there other vaccines that protect against pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PNEU-C13) is another type of pneumococcal vaccine. Children age 4 years and younger get this vaccine. You may also get it if you had your spleen removed, have a weak immune system, or have other health problems.

If you need both the PNEUMO-P and PNEU-C13 vaccines, it’s best to get the PNEU-C13 vaccine first. The 2 vaccines must be carefully spaced so you don’t get them too close together.

How well does the vaccine work?

In older adults and high-risk groups, the protection against a serious infection from pneumococcal disease is 50% to 80%.

This protection may weaken after 5 to 10 years, but more doses of the vaccine may not boost protection.

Where can I get the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

You can get the vaccine at a public health office in your area. You may also be able to get it from your family doctor or pharmacist.

Are there side effects from the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

There can be side effects from the PNEUMO-P vaccine, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:

  • redness, warmth, swelling, or feeling sore where you had the needle
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • fever
  • body aches

It’s important to stay at the clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccine. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you will get medicine to treat the symptoms.

It’s rare to have a serious side effect. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.

How can I manage side effects?

  • To help with soreness and swelling, put a cool, wet cloth over the area where you had the needle.
  • There’s medicine to help with fever or pain. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure what medicine or dosage to take. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Children under the age of 18 years should not take aspirin because it can cause serious health problems.
  • Some people with health problems, such as a weak immune system, must call their doctor if they get a fever. If you’ve been told to do this, call your doctor even if you think the fever is from the vaccine.

Who should not have the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

You may not be able to have the vaccine if you:

  • have an allergy to parts of the vaccine
  • had a severe or unusual side effect after this vaccine or one like it

Check with your doctor or public health nurse before you get the vaccine.

You can still have the vaccine if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or fever. Always tell your healthcare provider if you have allergies or if you have had a side effect from a vaccine in the past.

 

Facts about pneumococcal disease

What is pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcal disease:

  • is caused by bacteria
  • can lead to lung, airway, blood, and middle ear infections and meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining that cover the brain and spinal cord)
  • is the main cause of bacterial blood infections and meningitis in young children
  • is the main cause of pneumonia (a type of lung infection) in adults
  • causes 500,000 deaths worldwide each year in children under age 5 years

When adults with pneumococcal disease have a blood infection, 1 in 20 may die.

Who’s most at risk?
You’re most at risk of having a serious infection if you:

  • are very young or very old
  • live with certain health problems
  • smoke
  • are addicted to alcohol or use drugs

How does it spread?
Pneumococcal disease spreads through:

  • coughing and sneezing
  • saliva during kissing, sharing food, or sharing toys

Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still spread the disease.

More information

Current as of: July 22, 2020

Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services