VaccinationsPneumococcal vaccine side effects

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The pneumococcal vaccine is very safe, although, like all vaccinations, it can cause side effects.

It's not possible to catch a pneumococcal infection from the vaccine, as the vaccine does not contain any live bacteria.

Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine in babies

Mild side effects of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which is the version of the pneumococcal vaccine given to babies under the age of 2, include:

  • a decreased appetite
  • a slightly raised temperature
  • irritability
  • redness and swelling at the site of the injection
  • feeling sleepy or not sleeping well

Serious side effects of the PCV vaccine are rare, and include:

Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine in adults and older children

Mild side effects of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV), the version of the pneumococcal vaccine given to adults and children over the age of 2, include:

  • mild soreness or hardness at the site of the injection lasting 1 to 3 days
  • a slightly raised temperature

More serious side effects of the PPV vaccine, such as allergic reactions, are rare.

What to do if your child is unwell after pneumococcal vaccination

Most common side effects in babies and young children, such as swelling or redness at the injection site, usually go away within a couple of days and you do not need to do anything about them.

If your child develops a fever, keep them cool. Make sure they do not wear too many layers of clothes or blankets, and give them cool drinks.

You can also give them a dose of infant paracetamol or ibuprofen liquid according to the instructions on the bottle.

Read an NHS leaflet about the common side effects of vaccination that may occur in babies and children (PDF, 118kb) under the age of 5, and how to treat them.

Allergic reactions to the pneumococcal vaccine

Very occasionally, a child or adult may have a serious allergic reaction after either type of pneumococcal vaccination.

Known as an anaphylactic reaction, this can cause life-threatening breathing difficulties. 

Anaphylaxis is a rare, serious side effect that can happen within minutes of the injection. It's very alarming at the time, but it can be treated with adrenaline.

The doctor or nurse giving the vaccine will have been trained to know how to treat anaphylactic reactions.

Provided they receive treatment promptly, children and adults make a complete recovery.

Call your GP if you notice any unusual symptoms in your baby or yourself after being vaccinated.

Find out more about vaccine safety and side effects

Reporting side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you're taking or vaccines you have received.

It's run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

See the Yellow Card Scheme website for more information.

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect

Page last reviewed: 13/03/2016
Next review due: 13/03/2019