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Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PNEUMO-P) vaccine


​​​​​​​​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 these diseases.​

What is the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

The PNEUMO-P vaccine protects against 23 strains (types) of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae that cause pneumococcal disease. These 23 strains cause over 90% of 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 bacterial 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
  • have an alcohol or substance use problem

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.

Who should get 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 doses you need.

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?

There are 2 other vaccines that protect against pneumococcal disease:

  • Pneumococcal ​13-valent conjugate vaccine​ (PNEU-C13)​ is available to children age 4 years as part of their routine childhood vaccines. You may also get it if you had your spleen removed or have a weak immune system or 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.

  • Pneumococcal 20-valent conjugate vaccine (PCV 20) is available to buy from pharmacies or doctors for people 18 years of age and older. If you have had this vaccine, you may not need the PNEUMO-P vaccine.

Ask your healthcare provider what pneumococcal vaccines you should have.

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%.

Protection may weaken after 5 to 10 years. However, getting more doses of the vaccine may not boost protection and is not recommended at this time.

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 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, a hard spot, or feeling sore where you had the needle
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • a 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 after a vaccine. 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 a fever or pain. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure what medicine or dose to take. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Children under the age of 18 years should not take A​spirin (unless your doctor has told you to take it) because it can cause serious health problems if taken within 6 weeks of a vaccine.
  • 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.

What if I had or am getting another type of vaccine?

You can get a PNEUMO-P vaccine at the same time, any time before, or any time after most vaccines. However, certain vaccines have a waiting period. Check with your healthcare provider about when you can get the PNEUMO-P vaccine if you:

  • need both the PNEUMO-P and PNEU-C13 vaccines
  • had any vaccines in the last 2 weeks

Who should not get the PNEUMO-P vaccine?

You may not be able to get this vaccine if you:

  • have an allergy to any part of the vaccine
  • had a severe (serious) 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 get the vaccine if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or fever. However, if you have symptoms of an illness, you should stay home until you are feeling better.

I have a fear of needles. How can I prepare for my immunization?

Many adults and children are afraid of needles. You can do many things before, during, and after immunization to be more comfortable.

Visit Commitment to Comfort for tips to make immunization a better experience.

For more information about immunization

Current as of: December 9, 2022

Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services