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Pneumococcal Vaccines

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine FAQs

​​​​​​​Where can I get the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine?​

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

Do I need to get the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine every year?

No. Healthy people age 65 years or older only need 1 dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in their life. You may need 1 or 2 doses of this vaccine at an earlier age if you have certain health problems such as:​

  • your spleen was removed or doesn't work well
  • heart, lung, liver, or kidney problems
  • chronic cerebral spinal fluid leak
  • cochlear implants
  • diabetes
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)
  • a weak immune system because of disease or medicine you take
  • sickle cell disease
  • a solid organ transplant (such as lung, liver, or kidney)
You may also need a dose before you’re 65 years of age if you have other risks for severe pneumococcal infection. You’re at higher risk if you suffer from alcoholism, misuse drugs, or if you’re experiencing homelessness.

Your public health nurse will let you know if you need doses before you’re 65 years of age. 

If you’ve had doses before age 65, you still need a dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at age 65 years or older. Before you get this dose you need to wait 5 years from when you had your previous dose of this 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 have certain health problems. These include: 

  • having your spleen removed or a spleen that doesn't work well
  • chronic cerebral spinal fluid leak
  • cochlear implants
  • HIV
  • a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)
  • a weak immune system because of disease or medicine you take
  • sickle cell disease
  • a solid organ transplant (such as lung, liver, or kidney)​
Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if this vaccine is right for you.

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. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about when you’ll need each vaccine dose.​

If I'm pregnant or breastfeeding, can I get immunized?

​If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before you get the pneumococcal vaccine.​

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s safe to get the pneumococcal vaccine.

If I have a latex allergy, can I get the vaccine?

If you have an allergy or are sensitive to latex, it’s safe to get the vaccine. There is no latex in the vaccine or the vaccine packaging.

Can I get the vaccine if I take any medicines?

It’s safe to get the pneumococcal vaccine if you take any type of medicine. If you have questions, talk to your healthcare provider.

Can I get the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes. It’s safe to get the pneumococcal vaccine at the same time as other vaccines.

Can I donate blood if I get the vaccine?

Yes, you can donate blood if you get the vaccine.

For more information, go to the Canadian Blood Services website at www.blood.ca before you donate blood.

How long does it take the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine to start working?

It takes about 10 to 15 days after getting the vaccine to be protected against pneumococcal disease.

How well does the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine work?

How well the vaccine works depends on your age and general health. The vaccine is about 50% to 80% effective in preventing serious infection from pneumococcal disease.​


Current as of: September 30, 2021

Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services