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. The conjugate vaccine protects 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. It is given as a series of three doses, the first at 2 months, the second at 4 months and the third at 12 months.
Since 2011, Prevnar 13 has been the vaccine used under the Québec Immunization Program. However, following recommendations made by an expert committee, the Prevnar 13 vaccine was replaced by the Synflorix vaccine in May 2018.
A number of countries, including the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Iceland use the Synflorix vaccine in their child immunization program. In Canada, Québec is the only province to use the Synflorix vaccine for children.
Since the introduction of the pneumococcal immunization program for children in 2004, strains of bacteria that were previously common are now seen less frequently in children. Thus, based on the types of pneumococcal bacteria currently circulating in Québec and which cause serious infections, an expert committee recommends using the Synflorix vaccine for young children.
Since there are no studies confirming that the Synflorix vaccine is effective for certain groups of people, the Prevnar 13 vaccine is still recommended for:
- people 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.
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.
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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
Last update: September 17, 2019