Vaccination is the best protection against serious pneumococcal infections and their complications. For example, bacteremia, a blood infection with or without pneumonia, and meningitis, an infection of the lining that covers the brain, are 2 serious infections caused by pneumococcus.

There are many types of pneumococcus. Conjugate vaccines protect against the 10 (Synflorix® vaccine) or 13 (Prevnar 13® vaccine) most common types. Unfortunately, no vaccine protects against all types of pneumococcus.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is indicated for all children. Three doses of the vaccine are given: two doses of Synflorix® at 2 and 4 months of age, and one dose of Prevnar 13® at 12 months of age.

Since there are no studies confirming that the Synflorix® vaccine is effective for certain groups of people, a 3-dose vaccination schedule of Prevnar 13® vaccine is recommended for:

  • children age 5 to 17 at increased risk of serious pneumococcal infection due to a medical condition;
  • adults with an absent or dysfunctional spleen due to surgery or certain diseases, and those with a weakened immune system.

For these groups, the number of doses given varies depending on the person’s age and medical condition.

Vaccine composition

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines stimulate the immune system, which then prepares antibodies to defend itself against those viruses.

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines don’t contain the virus. They are composed of glucose and proteins found on the surface of the virus that can’t infect the person receiving the vaccine. In other words, the vaccines can’t transmit pneumococcal infection..

Like many other vaccines, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines contain an adjuvant, used to boost the immune system’s response to the vaccine. The vaccines contain no preservatives, latex, antibiotics, thimerosal or mercury.

To find out more, see the information about how vaccines work.

Symptoms after vaccination

Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, such as redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, for example a cold, gastroenteritis or a headache.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is safe. In most cases, it does not cause any reactions.

The Synflorix® vaccine generally causes slightly fewer reactions than the Prevnar 13® vaccine.

The Nature and Frequency of Possible Reactions to Vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

Very often
(less than 50% of people)

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Slight fever, irritability, loss of appetite, changes in sleep in children
  • Headache, muscle pain, joint pain, shivering, fatigue, skin rash, diarrhea, vomiting in adults

(less than 10% of people)

  • Moderate fever, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash in children
  • Slight fever in adults

(less than 1% of people)

  • Redness swelling, small lump for a few weeks covering an area more than 7 cm in diameter at the injection site in children
  • High fever, convulsions due for fever, unusual or persistent crying in young children
  • Swollen lymph nodes, allergic reaction in adults

(less than 1 person in 1,000)

  • Episodes similar to loss of consciousness (paleness, weakness, lack of reaction), allergic reaction in children

What to Do after Vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

When to Seek Medical Help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours