Pneumococcal Disease Vaccine

Prevnar®13, Pneumovax®23

There are two vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease. Prevnar®13 protects against 13 types of the bacteria and Pneumovax®23 protects against 23 types. This disease is easily prevented with immunization.

What is pneumococcal disease?

  • A disease caused by a bacteria found in the  nose, throat and mouth of many people, even those who are not sick
  • Spread by coughing and sneezing or contact with spit (e.g. kissing, sharing drinks or toys that have been put in the mouth).
  • Can cause infections of the ears, sinuses or lungs. It can also cause more serious infections of the blood or brain that can lead to brain damage, blood stream infections or death.
  • Most common among those under the age of 5 and those 65 and older
  • These bacteria are becoming resistant to medication, making the disease harder to treat. Immunization is the best way to prevent this serious disease.

Who should get Pneumococcal Disease Vaccine?


  • Infants and children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years
  • Routinely given at 2, 4 and 12 months of age
  • Individuals who are at high risk who are less than 5 years old or 50 years old and older


  • Adults 65 years and older
  • High risk individual 2 years of age and older

Talk to your doctor/public health nurse if you:

  • Had a bad reaction to a vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine, had a serious reaction to tetanus-toxoid or have any other allergies.
  • Are pregnant
  • Take medications or have any diseases that lower the immune system or increase bleeding
  • Feel very sick

What if a needle is missed?

  • Get the next needle as soon as possible
  • Your doctor may suggest a special “catch up” schedule depending on when you/your child received the first needle

What if I decide not to be immunized?

Choosing not to be immunized or delaying immunization puts you/your child at risk of getting sick with pneumococcal disease and the other serious infections it can cause (e.g. pneumonia).

Is Pneumococcal vaccine safe?

Yes!  You may have no reaction or mild symptoms that include:

  • Redness, swelling,  and pain where the needle went in
  • Low fever
  • Children may become fussy or sleepier than usual;

These normal reactions usually last between 12 and 24 hours.

When should I call my doctor?

Serious reactions after vaccination are very rare.  Get immediate medical help if you/your child have any unusual symptoms such as:

  • trouble breathing, swelling in your face/mouth and/or blotchy skin (hives)
  • fever above 40°C (104°F);
  • crying or fussing for more than 24 hours;
  • worsening swelling, redness, and/or pain where the needle went in;
  • unusual sleepiness (difficult to wake)

You know best.  If you notice anything that is not normal after a vaccination, check with your healthcare provider.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.


  • Make sure to update your immunization record
  • Notify the Health Unit each time your child receives a vaccine by phone (519-753-4937 ext. 451) or online

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada (Canadian Immunization Guide)Publicly Funded Schedules for Ontario (March 2015)

This information is for general knowledge only and does not replace professional medical advice. Please note there is a cost for immunizations that are not included in Ontario’s Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule. For more information contact us at 519-753-4937 ext. 451 or