Pneumococcal disease is a serious illness caused by a bacteria (germ) called
Streptococcus pneumoniae. People 65 years and older, people with certain health conditions, and babies and young children are at higher risk of getting very sick from pneumococcal disease.
Pneumococcal disease is spread through the air. The bacteria get in the air when someone with the bacteria coughs, sneezes, or even talks. It can also be spread by touching objects that have been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the bacteria.
People can have the pneumococcal bacteria in their nose and throat without getting sick. However, the bacteria can get into other parts of the body and cause serious infections such as meningitis (brain infection), blood infection, or a lung infection (pneumonia). These serious infections can cause death or long-term problems.
The symptoms depend on where the infection is in the body. They can include:
The bacteria are becoming resistant to some of the medicine used to treat it, so preventing the infection is more important than ever.
Yes. In Canada, vaccines undergo laboratory and field-testing. They must pass a strict licensing procedure with the federal government before they can be used. Once a vaccine has been approved for use, every lot is tested for safety and quality. You cannot get pneumococcal disease from the pneumococcal vaccine.
You should get the vaccine if you:
The vaccine should not be given to people who:
Tell your nurse or healthcare provider if you have had the vaccine before.
Most people only need 1 dose of the vaccine in their lifetime. Your doctor or public health nurse will tell you if you need a second dose.
Most people have no reaction to the vaccine. Reactions that do happen are usually mild. They usually happen within 6 to 12 hours after the immunization and are usually gone within 24 to 48 hours. About half of the people who get the vaccine have swelling and soreness at the injection site. A few people might have fever and muscle pain.
As with any immunization, unexpected or unusual side effects can happen, including a severe allergic reaction.
You can get the vaccine anytime of the year at Public Health Centres. In the fall, Public Health Influenza Immunization Clinics will have the pneumococcal vaccine available for those people who qualify for it.
Some doctor’s offices in Alberta also give the vaccine.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information, call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: August 15, 2016
Author: Influenza Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services