The pneumococcal vaccine helps protect you against pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal can cause a fever, irritability, pneumonia, meningitis, blood poisoning (septicemia), ear infections and other infections.
Two pneumococcal vaccines are available free under the National Immunisation Program for specific groups.
The Prevenar 13 vaccine is available free as part of the National Immunisation Program at:
- 6 weeks of age, 4 and 12 months of age
- an additional dose is due at 6 months of age for children at risk because of underlying medical conditions and those who 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 infection.
The Pneumovax 23 vaccine is available free to groups considered at risk of pneumococcal infection, including all::
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people 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 are considered at high risk of increased complications from a pneumococcal infection .
- adults 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 at the injection site
- mild fever of 37-38 degrees Celsius
- irritability, drowsiness and decreased appetite.
Very rarely, you may experience a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.
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
- 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.