Pneumococcal immunisation service
Pneumococcal vaccines are given as a needle, on their own, not as a combination vaccine. They can be provided by a variety of recognised immunisation providers. If you're eligible, you can get a pneumococcal vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.
Why get immunised against pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It is especially serious for young children and older people. It can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infection and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain).
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from pneumococcal disease.
By getting vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.
Who should get immunised against pneumococcal disease?
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against pneumococcal disease can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
Pneumococcal immunisation is recommended for:
- infants and children aged under 5 years
- non-Indigenous adults aged 70 years and over without medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged under 5 years living in Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 50 years and over without medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- infants under 12 months diagnosed with certain medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- people over 12 months with certain medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine provided free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for different age groups and circumstances:
- all children at 2, 4 and 12 months of age (3 doses in total)
- an extra dose at 6 months for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who live in Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia or South Australia, in addition to the 3 doses for all children (4 doses in total)
- children under 12 months who have certain medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting serious pneumococcal disease (6 doses in total over a number of years)
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or over (3 doses in total)
- all non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 70 years or over (1 dose)
- all people 12 months and over who have who have certain medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting serious pneumococcal disease (3 doses in total).
Refer to the NIP schedule for vaccine dosage information. Your doctor or vaccination provider will advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition.
Refer to the pneumococcal recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook for more information.
Where can you get a pneumococcal immunisation?
Pneumococcal immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.
See Where can I get immunised? for information.
How do you get immunised against pneumococcal disease?
You can only get pneumococcal vaccines on their own, not as a combination vaccine. Different vaccines protect against different types of pneumococcal disease. They are all given as a needle.
There are 2 types of pneumococcal vaccine:
- Prevenar 13 - PDF 21 KB - covers 13 strains of pneumococcal disease.
- Pneumovax 23 - PDF 21 KB - covers 23 strains of pneumococcal disease.
The type of vaccine used and the dosage schedule will depend on age and any conditions that put people at higher risk of getting pneumococcal disease. Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your pneumococcal immunisation.
Do I need to pay for pneumococcal immunisation?
Vaccines covered by the National Immunisation Program are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.
Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.
If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.
What are the possible side effects of pneumococcal immunisation?
All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.
For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.
Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of pneumococcal vaccines, or if you or your child have symptoms after having a pneumococcal vaccine that worry you.
Common side effects of pneumococcal vaccines include:
- pain, redness and swelling where the needle went in
- feeling irritable
- feeling drowsy
- reduced appetite
- body aches.
The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against pneumococcal disease? list the side effects of each vaccine.
- Pneumococcal disease
- What is immunisation?
- How does immunisation work?
- NIP Schedule
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance
- Australian Immunisation Handbook
If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.