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    Home > Adult Immunisation > Pneumococal

Pneumococcal

If you have any queries or concerns about vaccines please contact your GP or local health office (http://www.immunisation.ie/en/Downloads/Text_9491_en.html)

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What is pneumococcal disease?

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacteria which causes pneumococcal disease. It is a major cause of illness and death, particularly amongst the very young, the very old and those who have no spleen or weakened immunity.

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How do I get pneumococcal disease?

Bacteria are spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing or close contact. The bacteria can be carried in the nose and throat without doing any harm but sometimes they can invade the lungs and bloodstream causing pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. 

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How serious is pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal disease is a very serious disease. It is a major cause of illness and death, particularly amongst the very young, the very old and those with no spleen or impaired immunity. It is a major cause of pneumonia in the community.

Also causes

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the lining around the brain),
  • Sinusitis
  • Osteomyelitis (inflammation of a bone)
  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infection
  • Blood stream infection (Bacteraemia)

Over the years Streptococcus pneumoniae has become resistant to many medications making the treatment of pneumococcal infections much more difficult. Prevention of disease through vaccination is now more important than ever.

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Who is at risk of pneumococcal disease?

Everybody is at risk of getting pneumococcal disease but older people and very young children are most at risk from infection. Particularly at risk are people who are have long term medical conditionshave no spleen or have a weakened immune system;

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How can pneumococcal disease be prevented?

Pneumococcal disease can be prevented by vaccination.

Over the years Streptococcus pneumoniae has become resistant to many medications making the treatment of pneumococcal infections much more difficult. Prevention of disease through vaccination is now more important than ever.

Vaccination is recommended for those at risk of the disease. 

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Which pneumococcal vaccines are recommended in Ireland?

There are two different pneumococcal vaccines to prevent pneumococcal infections

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) which is given to all babies as part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23) which is for those aged 65 years and older and those over 2 years with long term medical conditions. This vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococcal disease including those most likely to cause severe disease.

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Who should be vaccinated with PPV23 Pneumococcal vaccine?

Pneumococcal disease is a very serious disease. It is a major cause of illness and death, particularly amongst the very young. Those with the following conditions should be vaccinated with PPV23.

Everybody aged 65 years and over

Also those aged over 2 years with ;

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Chronic heart, respiratory or liver disease
  • Chronic renal disease, nephrotic syndrome, renal transplant
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Those with missing or non functioning spleens
  • Disorders of the immune system including cancer
  • People receiving chemotherapy or other treatments that suppress the immune system
  • Persons with HIV infection or AIDS
  • Those who have received or are about to receive cochlear transplants

PPV23 vaccination is not recommended for healthy children and adults as they are at low risk of pneumococcal disease 

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Who should not receive the PPV23 Pneumococcal vaccine?

This PPV 23 vaccine is not recommended for children under two years of age as it does not work well in this age group.

The PPV23 vaccine is safe for most people. However, you should not get this vaccine if you have had a true allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose or to any part of the vaccine.

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What are the potential side effects of the PPV23 pneumococcal vaccine?

The vaccine is very safe. Local reactions are common – approximately 50% will get tenderness and redness at the injection site. Less than 1% will develop fever, aches or more severe local reactions.

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Is it possible to get the disease from the PPV23 pneumococcal vaccine?

No, you cannot get pneumococcal disease from the vaccine as it does not contain live bacteria.

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Can you get the PPV23 pneumococcal vaccine the same time as the flu vaccine?

Yes. PPV Pneumococcal vaccine may be given at the same time as influenza vaccine. Your doctor may safely give the two vaccines when you attend for your influenza vaccine.

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Where can I find out more?

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This section was updated on 8th January 2014
Health Protection Surveillance Centre The Department of Health and Children Irish College Of General Practitioner