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:

  • all children aged 2 months, 4 months and 12 months, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months who live in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia or South Australia, in addition to the routine 2 month, 4 month and 12 month vaccine for free under the NIP
  • children who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting serious pneumococcal disease, when they are 6 months old and 4 years old, in addition to the routine 2 month, 4 month and 12 month vaccine for free under the NIP
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk, when they are aged 15 years or over, for free under the NIP
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or over, for free under the NIP
  • all non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 years or over, for free under the NIP
  • children, adolescents and adults who have certain medical conditions that put them at higher risk – talk to your doctor about when to get these doses.

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:

  • One vaccine covers 13 strains of pneumococcal disease. This one is used to immunise babies and young children.
  • The other vaccine covers 23 strains of pneumococcal disease. This one is used to immunise older people and people who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting serious pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal vaccines include:

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
  • fever
  • 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.

More information

Contacts

If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018