Pneumococcal vaccine for adults

The pneumococcal vaccine provides some protection against a form of bacterial meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria and other conditions such as severe ear infections. 

As well as providing some protection against a form of bacterial meningitis, the pneumococcal vaccine also helps protect against other conditions such as severe ear infections and pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The vaccine does not protect against all types of pneumococcal infection and does not protect against meningitis caused by other bacteria or viruses.


Who needs a pneumococcal vaccination?

The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for many of the same people who receive an annual flu vaccine and other selected groups of people at higher risk of developing complications from pneumococcal infection.

Unlike the flu vaccine which is given every year, the pneumococcal vaccine is only usually given once. The Scottish Government provides pneumococcal immunisation for all people aged 65 years and over. For those aged under 65, GPs may at their own discretion provide immunisation for people with the following serious medical conditions:

• Problems with the spleen, either because the spleen has been removedor doesn’t work properly, e.g. sickle cell disorder and coeliac disease.

• Chronic lung disease, including chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

• Serious heart conditions.

• Severe kidney disease.

• Long-term liver disease.

• Diabetes requiring medication.

• Lowered immunity due to disease or treatment e.g. HIV, chemotherapy for cancer,or long-term oral steroids for conditions such as asthma

• Cochlear implants

• Individuals with cerebrospinal fluid leaks

• Children under 5 years of age who have previously had invasive pneumococcal disease, such as meningitis or bacteraemia.


Are there any possible side effects?

Any reactions are generally minor and disappear within a few days. The vaccine does not contain live bacteria and cannot cause an infection.


Where can I get more information?

You can also talk to your practice nurse or GP, or call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 2244 88 (textphone 18001 0800 22 44 88). The helpline is open every day and also provides an interpreting service.

Last reviewed on 08 September 2017

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