Pneumococcal Disease

When should I immunize my child to protect against pneumococcal disease?

Your child is recommended to receive the immunizations that will protect him or her against pneumococcal disease, at the following ages:

Dose 1 - Pneumococcal conjugate

2 months

Dose 2 - Pneumococcal conjugate

4 months

Dose 3 - Pneumococcal conjugate

12 months

Please Note: Children at high risk of invasive pneumococcal disease will be given an additional dose of this vaccine at six months of age.  This additional dose, for high risk children only, would be followed by the routine 12 month dose.

See full schedule.

Pneumococcal Disease quick facts:

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It can cause meningitis (an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord), bacteremia (an infection of the blood), pneumonia and middle-ear infections. It can result in death or long-term impacts such as
deafness and brain damage.

Pneumococcal disease is easily spread through sneezing or coughing and from saliva (e.g. kissing, sharing food, sharing toys). 

What can happen to my child if he or she gets pneumococcal disease?

Sadly, the disease is quite serious for infants and young children. In fact, for every 20 children who get sick with pneumococcal disease, up to five will die. Infections caused by pneumococcal disease can also cause lifelong damage to the brain, the ears and major organs.

About the immunization:

Pneumococcal disease can be prevented through immunization.

The vaccine that protects your child against pneumococcal disease is called the pneumococcal conjugate (PNEU-C13) vaccine.

When your child gets the pneumococcal conjugate (PNEU-C13) vaccine, your child’s immune system will be prompted to build antibodies that protect – or “arm” – your child against pneumococcal disease.

Children with certain health problems (e.g., heart, lung, kidney, liver problems; diabetes; weak immune system) should also get a vaccine called pneumococcal polysaccharide (PNEUMO-P) when they are 2 years of age or older.

Safety

Your child cannot get pneumococcal disease, or any other diseases, from the pneumococcal conjugate (PNEU-C13) or the pneumococcal polysaccharide (PNEUMO-P) vaccine.

These vaccines are safe, and provide your child with protection against a disease that is not safe.

The risk that pneumococcal disease poses to your child’s health is far greater than any risk related to immunizing your child against pneumococcal disease. 

Learn more about general vaccine safety here.

Safety checks before immunization

Your nurse will talk to you about your child’s health history before giving your child any vaccines. This will include questions about any medicines your child is taking, health conditions your child has or is experiencing, as well as any allergies your child may have. Your nurse will guide you on what is safe for your child, based on your child’s health history.      

When your nurse talks to you about your child’s health history, it is important that you inform your nurse if your child:

  • is sick or has a fever greater than 38.5 C (101.3 F)
  • has allergies to any part of the vaccine
  • is allergic to any foods, drugs, bee stings, etc.
  • has a weakened immune system (immune compromised)
  • has had an allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) to this or other vaccines in the past.

Your nurse will guide you on what is safe for your child, based on your child’s health history.

PLEASE NOTE: Your child should NOT get the vaccine if he/she has had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to this vaccine in the past.

What might my child experience after immunization?

Reactions to PENU-C13 and PNEUMO-P vaccine are usually mild, go away within a few days, and may include:

  • redness, swelling and soreness in the area where the needle was given
  • feeling tired, irritable
  • headache or body aches
  • fever or chills
  • poor appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • rash

Unexpected or unusual reactions can happen after being immunized. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.

How can I manage my child’s symptoms after immunization?

No matter your child’s age, it is normal for him or her to experience some common, mild and temporary symptoms after immunization. 

Here are a few tips to manage these mild symptoms:

  • Fever. If you need medicine for fever or pain, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully. If you are not sure whether your child’s fever is related to the immunization, dial 811 for Health Link or talk to your doctor or pharmacist, before giving your child medicine. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 19 years of age. Aspirin increases the risk of a rare but serious disease called Reye Syndrome.
  • Swelling or redness around injection point. Put a cool moist cloth on the area for about 10 to 20 minutes. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you need medicine to help relieve the discomfort. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully.
  • Fretfulness and poor appetite. Sometimes a baby may be fretful, drowsy and refuse to eat for a few hours after immunization. Plan to relax in a quiet environment at home after immunization. Hold and cuddle your child when needed, and remember to keep the temperature at a comfortable level – your child is more likely to be fretful if he or she gets too warm.

Severe allergic reactions after immunization are rare, occurring at an estimated annual rate of only one to ten per one million doses of vaccine administered, and can be treated. Our nurses will ask that you stay with your child, in the immunization clinic, for at least 15 minutes after your child receives his or her immunizations. For the dose that your child receives in school, the nurse will also require your child to stay for at least 15 minutes after his or her immunization. This will allow the nurse to identify and treat any immediate allergic reaction that could occur.

If you are concerned about symptoms your child is experiencing after immunization, dial 811 for Health Link to speak to a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your child is experiencing severe shortness of breath, call 911.