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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Pneumococcal Vaccine: What You Need to Know


- have sickle cell disease,

- have a damaged spleen or no spleen,

- have HIV/AIDS,

- have other diseases that affect the immune system, such as diabetes,

cancer, or liver disease, or who

- take medications that affect the immune system, such as chemotherapy or

steroids, or

- have chronic heart or lung disease.

The vaccine should be considered for all other children under age 5 years, especially those at higher risk of serious pneumococcal disease. This includes children who:

- are under 3 years of age,

- are of Alaska Native, American Indian or African American descent, or

- attend group day care.

The number of doses needed depends on the child's age. Ask your health care provider for more details.

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

4. Some children should not get pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or should wait.

Children should not get pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if they had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of this vaccine, or have a severe allergy to a vaccine component. Tell your health-care provider if your child has ever had a severe reaction to any vaccine, or has any severe allergies.

Children with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting the vaccine.

5. What are the risks from pneumococcal conjugate vaccine?

In studies (nearly 60,000 doses), pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was associated with only mild reactions:

Up to about 1 infant out of 4 had redness, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given.

Up to about 1 out of 3 had a fever of over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and up to about 1 in 50 had a higher fever (over 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some children also became fussy or drowsy, or had a loss of appetite.

So far, no moderate or severe reactions have been associated with this vaccine. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, could cause serious problems, such as a severe allergic reaction. The risk of this vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

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