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Pneumococcal Vaccination for Adults

Who Should Not Get the Pneumococcal Vaccine?

You should NOT get the PPSV23 or the PCV13 vaccine if you have had:

  • A life-threatening allergic reaction to either vaccine
  • A severe allergy to any of the vaccines' ingredients 

If you are moderately to severely ill, your doctor may recommend waiting to get the shot until after you recover. The CDC says you can still get the vaccines if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or low-grade fever.

It is not known whether the PPSV23 and PCV13 vaccines are safe to get during pregnancy. But there have been no reports of harm to babies whose mothers received the vaccine before realizing they were pregnant. Pregnant women should only receive these vaccinations if they are clearly needed.

What Are the Side Effects and Risks of the Pneumococcal Vaccine?

Like all vaccines, both PPSV23 and PCV13 can have side effects. But the risk of harm or death from either is extremely rare.

Reported side effects are similar for both vaccines. Some people may have mild swelling, redness, and soreness where the shot was given. This goes away in a few days.

Less than 1% of people who receive these vaccines may have:

  • Fever
  • More severe swelling, pain, or redness where the shot was given
  • Muscle aches

Rarely, someone may have a severe allergic reaction to an ingredient in the vaccines. Most of the time, such reactions occur within a few minutes of receiving a pneumococcal vaccine. The following can be signs of a severe allergic reaction:

  • Behavior changes
  • Breathing difficulty, including wheezing
  • Dizziness
  • Hoarse voice
  • High fever
  • Hives
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Weakness

Seek immediate medical care if you notice any of these signs after receiving either pneumococcal vaccine. 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on March 21, 2013

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