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Facts About...

(Pneumovax® 23)

What is pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine?

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine protects you from bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). These bacteria can cause infections in the blood, brain, spinal cord, lungs and middle ear. Severe infections can cause death. (For more information, see Facts About... Pneumococcal Diseases).

How well does the vaccine work?

For healthy adults, the vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing serious pneumococcal diseases.

Among the elderly and high-risk groups the vaccine is estimated to be 50-80% effective at preventing serious illness. Some people with a chronic illness may need to get the vaccine more than once.

Who can get the vaccine for free?

  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is publicly funded (free) to all adults aged 65 years and older and those that are 2-64 years of age with a high risk condition (talk to your healthcare provider).

When should you get the vaccine?

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine can be given at any time of year. It may be given at the same time as other vaccine(s). In general healthy people only need the vaccine one time.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine should be given 8 weeks apart from the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (another type of pneumococcal vaccine).

Are there side effects with the vaccine?

The most common side effects of the vaccine are:

  • redness
  • swelling and soreness at the injection site
  • low-grade fever

A cold, wet compress to the site and/or acetaminophen can be used to help to relieve pain, swelling and/or fever after vaccination.

  • Severe allergic reactions after vaccination are very rare and may not be related to the vaccine. However, if you think a serious reaction is developing, seek medical attention right away. Any unusual or significant changes in your health or your child’s health after the immunization should be reported to a healthcare provider and the Health Department.

Who should NOT get the vaccine?

  • Children under 2 years of age (see Facts About... Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
  • Those who have had a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine within the past 8 weeks
  • Anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
  • Those who have a high fever or serious infection worse than a cold should wait until they feel better

If you have any medical conditions, discuss the vaccine with a healthcare provider to determine if you should receive it.

Your Record of Protection

After you or your child receives a vaccine, update your immunization record (yellow card). For children in school or daycare, please call the Health Department to update your child’s immunization records. Keep your records in a safe place!

February 6, 2017

For more information call
905-668-7711 OR 1-800-841-2729