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Pneumococcal vaccines

The pneumococcal vaccine helps protect you against pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal can cause a fever, pneumonia, meningitis, blood poisoning (septicemia), ear infections and other infections.

Two pneumococcal vaccines are available free under the National Immunisation Program for specific groups.

Vaccine recommendations

Prevenar 13®

The Prevenar 13 vaccine is available free as part of the National Immunisation Program at:

  • 6 weeks of age, 4 and 6 months of age
  • a further dose is due at 12 months of age for children at risk because of underlying medical conditions and/or identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The Prevenar 13 vaccine is also recommended to other groups, for example, those with chronic medical conditions, that are associated with an increased risk of pneumococcal.

Pneumovax 23®

The Pneumovax 23 vaccine is available free to groups considered at risk of pneumococcal infection including all:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander aged 50 years of age and over and those aged 15 to 49 years of age with medical at risk factors.
  • children aged four years of age who have a chronic medical condition and considered at high risk of increased complications from a pneumococcal infection.
  • persons 65 years of age and over.

The Pneumovax 23 vaccine is also recommended to other groups, for example, those with chronic medical conditions, or at high risk of catching the disease. Speak to your doctor or immunisation provider if you think you are in this category.

The Pneumovax 23 vaccine must not be given to children less than two years of age

How the vaccine is given

The pneumococcal vaccine is given as an injection into the thigh if under 12 months of age or into the top of the arm if over 12 months of age.

Possible side effects

Like any medications, the pneumococcal vaccines can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

Common side effects may include:

  • pain, redness and swelling where you were immunised
  • low grade fever of 37 to 38 degrees Celsius
  • irritability, drowsiness and decreased appetite
  • muscle soreness and drowsiness.

Very rarely, you may experience a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.

If you are concerned or worried, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health’s Immunisation Section or healthdirect Australia

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to the Immunisation Section.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
  • not overdressing if you are already hot
  • applying a cool compress at the injection site

Where to get immunised

To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment. 

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.

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