Bacteria spread by droplets; causes fever, pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis.

Effects of the disease

About one in 10 meningitis patients dies.

How to immunise and when

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine – the conjugate vaccine and the polysaccharide vaccine. The conjugate vaccine works well in babies and young children and covers the 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that most commonly cause disease in children. The polysaccharide vaccine covers 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria but it does not work well in young children. It is mainly used for vaccination of adults and is also given as a booster vaccination after a course of conjugate vaccine for older children with specific medical conditions who require additional protection.

Three doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine are given, starting at 2 months of age (can be given from 6 weeks). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children with specific medical conditions may need extra doses. You should discuss this with your immunisation provider if you think your child is in a specific high risk group.

Medical conditions that predispose children to high incidence or high severity of pneumococcal infection are:

  • congenital  immune deficiency
  • poor functioning spleen due to conditions such as sickle cell anemia or surgical removal of the spleen
  • HIV infection, before and after development of AIDS
  • kidney failure, or relapsing or persistent nephrotic syndrome
  • Down syndrome
  • heart disease associated with cyanosis or cardiac failure
  • cystic fibrosis
  • insulin-dependent diabetes  mellitus
  • cerebrospinal  fluid leak
  • intracranial shunts and cochlear implants
  • immunosuppressive therapy (such as cancer treatment or large doses of steroids)
  • all premature infants with chronic lung disease
  • all infants born at less than 28 weeks gestation.

Side effects of immunisation

Conjugate vaccine: About one in 10 has a local reaction at the site of injection or fever.

If you have any concerns about side effects of vaccines, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Page last updated: 10 Aug 2017