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Pneumonia vaccine side effects

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The pneumonia vaccine is a routine NHS vaccination given to babies, people over 65, and anyone with a condition that makes them high-risk for pneumonia. It’s also available for free to those at risk of complications if they catch pneumonia. If you don’t fall into these groups, you can also have a private vaccine.

Getting the pneumonia vaccine is really important if you’re high-risk, as it can help prevent infection from the bacteria strains that commonly cause pneumonia. If you get pneumonia and you’re in a high-risk group, there’s a chance you’ll need medical care in hospital.

As with any medical treatment, the pneumonia vaccine can cause some side effects, however these tend to be minor. To learn more about the symptoms you might experience, and when not to get the vaccine, read on.

Book your pneumonia jab

What’s in the pneumonia vaccine?

The first thing to know is that there are two types of pneumonia vaccine:

  • Prevenar 13 – pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) – which is given to babies and young children as part of their routine NHS vaccinations. It can also be given to adults who aren’t in a high-risk group. This type prevents against 13 strains of bacteria that can cause pneumonia.
  • Pneumovax 23 – pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) – which is given to people over 65 and anyone with a health condition that makes them high-risk for pneumonia and its complications. This type prevents against 23 strains of bacteria that can cause pneumonia.

Both of these vaccines work in the same way: by encouraging your body to produce antibodies which can fight off pneumococcal bacteria – the bacteria that cause pneumonia. Once you’ve had the vaccine, your body will be better able to fight off infection.

This year to help support the NHS we are just offering the Prevenar 13 vaccination in our stores. This is so the NHS has enough of the Pneumovax 23 to vaccinate those in our communities who are most at risk of catching pneumonia. If you fall into the NHS high-risk category, please contact your GP for advice and to have Pneumovax 23.

Is the pneumonia vaccine live or inactivated?

Both types of the pneumonia vaccine are inactivated. This means they don’t contain any live organisms or viruses. They can’t give you pneumonia.

Can the pneumonia vaccine make you ill​?

The pneumonia vaccine can’t give you pneumonia. However, it might cause some temporary side effects, which you can read about below.

Common side effects of the pneumonia vaccine

Prevenar 13

According to the Patient Information Leaflet for Prevenar 13, side effects differ slightly depending on the age of the person getting the vaccine.

For adults, the most common side effects are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Rash
  • Tiredness
  • Pain, redness, hardness, swelling, and/or tenderness at the injection site
  • Joint pain

However, not everybody will have these kinds of symptoms – and if you do experience them, it’s likely they’ll pass within a couple of days.

Pneumovax 23

According to the Patient Information Leaflet for Pneumovax 23, common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, hardness, warmth, and/or swelling at the injection site
  • Fever

If you do experience these kinds of symptoms, it’s likely they’ll pass within a couple of days.

Uncommon side effects of the pneumonia vaccine

Occasionally, the pneumonia vaccine may cause other side effects, including hives (a raised, itchy skin rash), enlarged lymph nodes or glands, a seizure caused by a high temperature, or swelling in the limb that’s been injected.

Allergic reaction to the pneumonia vaccine

In rare cases, people have an allergic reaction to the pneumonia vaccine shortly after receiving their jab. This is known as anaphylaxis, and it can be life-threatening.

The good news is, all doctors, nurses and pharmacists who administer the jab are trained to deal with anaphylaxis. If you happen to have a severe reaction, the medical professional who gave you the jab will be able to carry out emergency treatment.

Who shouldn’t have the pneumonia vaccine?

There’s a long list of people who should have the pneumonia vaccine. Even if you’re not on the list you may want to get the vaccine. Speak to a pharmacist in your local store today for more advice.

There are also some people who should avoid it: 

  • If you’ve previously had a severe allergic reaction to the pneumonia vaccine or any ingredients it contains, you probably won’t be able to get the jab.
  • If you have a fever and you’re feeling unwell you’ll probably need to delay your vaccine appointment until you’ve recovered.
  • If you’re pregnant, you may want to wait to receive your vaccine until you’ve had your baby. The vaccine is generally thought to be safe for pregnant women, but there may still be a small risk for you and your baby until you’ve given birth.

Get the pneumonia vaccine at your local pharmacy

We have a pneumonia vaccination service offering Prevenar 13 for anyone over 18, as long as it’s safe for you to have. You can book your vaccine online or come into store and speak to a pharmacist first to check it’s suitable for you. This is a great option for people who want to get vaccinated but who don’t qualify for a free jab on the NHS.