The pneumococcal vaccine provides some protection against meningitis caused by pneumococcal infection, and against other conditions such as severe ear infections and pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. This vaccine doesn't, however, protect against meningitis caused by other bacteria or viruses.
Some children are at an increased risk from pneumococcal infection. All at risk children should be offered the vaccine according to the routine childhood immunisation programme. Additionally, at risk children should be offered the vaccine when they're aged 2 years or over. If you aren't sure about your child's health or need further advice, speak to your GP, health visitor, practice nurse or pharmacist.
When will my child be vaccinated?
The pneumococcal vaccine's given to babies at 8 and 16 weeks of age with a booster dose given between 12 and 13 months. The vaccine can be given at any time and one injection provides years of protection.
The pneumococcal booster dose between 12 and 13 months is usually given at the same time as the Hib/MenC, MMR and MenB vaccines.
What's pneumococcal infection and how's it spread?
Pneumococcal infection's caused by pneumococcal bacteria. It can cause serious illness such as pneumonia. Pneumococcal infection's also one of the most common causes of meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain).
Up to 60% of children carry pneumococcal bacteria in the back of their nose and throat. They constantly pass these bacteria around by coughing, sneezing and close contact.
Why should I worry about pneumococcal infection?
Pneumococcal infection can cause:
- ear and sinus infections
- life-threatening infection of the blood (septicaemia)
- pneumonia (which can also be life-threatening).
Children under 2 years of age and children with certain health conditions have a higher chance of becoming unwell with pneumococcal infection.
More about meningitis and septicaemia