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Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine


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

There are several types of pneumococcus. The polysaccharide vaccine provides protection against the 23 types most frequent.

The polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for people aged 65 and older. It is also indicated for persons ages 2 to 64 who have a high risk of serious pneumococcal infection.

Persons with a high risk of serious pneumococcal infection include:

  • those with no spleen or a malfunctioning spleen, through surgery or after certain diseases
  • those who have cochlear implant surgery
  • those who suffer from certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer or heart, respiratory, or kidney disease
  • those aged 50 and older who suffer from asthma requiring regular medical follow-up
  • those whose immune system has been weakened


Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, e.g. redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, e.g. cold, gastro, headache.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is safe. Most reactions are harmless and do not last long.

The nature and frequency of possible reactions to vaccine
FrequencyPossible reactions to the vaccine

In most cases
(more than 50% of people)

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site for under 48 hours

(less than 10% of people)

  • Moderate or high fever, muscle soreness, headache

Very rarely
(less than 1 person in 10,000)

  • Important pain, redness and swelling at the infection site, high fever, discomfort, swollen lymph nodes, joint paint, skin rash

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 8, 2020


Information on the website in no way replaces the opinion of a health professional. If you have questions concerning your health status, consult a professional.


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