Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine
What is pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcal disease is the main cause of bacterial meningitis (an infection of the covering of the brain) in the United States. Each year, pneumococcal disease causes many health problems in children younger than 5 years, including these problems:
Children younger than 2 years are at highest risk for serious disease. Pneumococcal disease causes about 200 deaths each year in children younger than 5 years.
What is the pneumococcal vaccine?
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is a "shot" for infants and toddlers. It is good at preventing pneumococcal disease, and it also helps stop the disease from spreading from person to person.
The vaccine's protection lasts at least 3 years. Because most serious pneumococcal infections happen during the first 2 years of life, the vaccine protects children when they are at greatest risk. (Some older children and adults may get a different vaccine called pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.)
Why should my child get this vaccine?
Pneumococcus bacteria are spread from person to person through close contact. Pneumococcal infections can be hard to treat because the disease has become resistant to some of the medicines that have been used to treat it. This makes preventing the disease even more important. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can prevent pneumococcal disease.
Who should get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and when?
Two groups of children should get this vaccine:
  1. Children younger than 2 years. All healthy infants and toddlers should get 4 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine:
  2. One dose at 2 months of age
  3. One dose at 4 months of age
  4. One dose at 6 months of age
  5. One dose at 12 to 15 months of age
Children who miss the first dose at 2 months of age should still get the vaccine. Ask your doctor for more information.
  1. Children between 2 and 5 years of age. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for children between 2 and 5 years of age who:
  2. Have sickle cell disease
  3. Have a damaged spleen or no spleen
  4. Have HIV/AIDS
  5. Have other diseases that affect the immune system, such as diabetes or cancer
  6. Take medicines that affect the immune system, such as chemotherapy or steroids
This vaccine should also be considered for use in all other children between 2 and 5 years of age, but especially those who:
The number of doses needed depends on the age when the vaccination begins. Ask your doctor for more details.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine may be given at the same time as other childhood vaccines.
Are there some children who should not get pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or who should wait until they are older?
Children should not get pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if they had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.
Children who are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine. Children with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated.
What are the risks from pneumococcal conjugate vaccine?
In clinical trials, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was associated with only mild reactions:
A vaccine, like any medicine, could cause serious problems, such as a severe allergic reaction. The risk of this vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely small. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.
What if my child has a moderate or severe reaction? What should I look for?
Look for any unusual condition such as a serious allergic reaction, high fever or unusual behavior. If a serious allergic reaction is going to happen, it will happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include the following:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hoarseness or wheezing
  • Hives
  • Paleness
  • Weakness
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of the throat
What should I do if my child has a reaction?
How can I learn more about this vaccine?
Telephone: 800-232-2522 (English)
Web site of the National Immunization Program: www.cdc.gov/nip
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Immunization Program. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Vaccine information statement 7/18/2000. www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/VIS/vis-PneumoConjugate.pdf.