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.
Who should get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against pneumococcal disease can talk to their vaccination provider about getting vaccinated.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook recommends pneumococcal vaccination for specific groups including:
- routine vaccination in infants and children
- non-Indigenous adults aged 70 years and over
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 50 years and over
- children, adolescents and adults with risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine provided free under the National Immunisation Program 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).
Your vaccination provider will advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition. See also Immunisation for people with medical conditions.
Eligible people under 20 years old and refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get a free catch-up vaccination. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood and it is recommended to receive the vaccine.
Pneumococcal vaccines should not be given to people who have had:
- anaphylaxis after a previous dose of any pneumococcal vaccine
- anaphylaxis after any component of a pneumococcal vaccine
Pneumococcal vaccines are not generally recommended for pregnant women.
Read more about Getting vaccinated.
How to get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease
Pneumococcal vaccines only come as a single vaccine, not as a combination vaccine. Different vaccines protect against different types of pneumococcal disease. It is given as a needle, usually in the upper arm.
Pneumococcal vaccines include:
- Prevenar 13 - PDF 21 KB* - covers 13 strains of pneumococcal disease.
- Pneumovax 23 - PDF 21 KB* - covers 23 strains of pneumococcal disease.
* Indicates National Immunisation Program vaccine.
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 vaccination provider will tell you which vaccine they will give you.
Find product information and consumer medicine information for each available vaccine from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Where to get vaccinated
You can get your vaccine from a range of vaccination providers. Find out where and more about your vaccination visit at getting vaccinated.
Possible side effects of pneumococcal vaccination
You may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most reactions are mild and last no more than a couple of days and you will recover without any problems.
Common side effects of pneumococcal vaccines include:
- pain, redness and swelling at injection site
- occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks - no treatment needed)
- mild fever.
Talk to your vaccination provider about possible side effects of pneumococcal vaccines, or if you or your child have symptoms after having a pneumococcal vaccine that worry you.
The Consumer Medicine Information available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website lists the ingredients and side effects of each vaccine.
Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination.