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When is pneumococcal vaccine needed?

There are three groups of people who need to be vaccinated against pneumococcal infections:

  • babies
  • people aged 65 and over
  • anyone between the ages of two and 65 with a long term health condition

Babies and the pneumococcal vaccine

Babies are routinely vaccinated with the a type of pneumo jab known as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) as part of their childhood vaccination programme. They have three injections usually given at:

  • two months old
  • four months old
  • 13 months old

Adults aged 65 or over and the pneumococcal vaccine

If you are 65 or over you will be offered a type of pneumo jab known as the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV). This one-off vaccination is very effective at protecting you against serious forms of pneumococcal infection.

People with health problems and the pneumococcal vaccine

The PPV pneumo jab is available on the NHS for children and adults aged from two to 64 years old who are at a higher risk of developing a pneumococcal infection than the general population. Children up to five years old who are at high risk may also need the PCV (because the PPV jab doesn't always work in young children).

You're considered to be at a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection if you have:

  • had your spleen removed, or your spleen does not work properly
  • a long-term respiratory disease, for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (the name for a collection of lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe)
  • heart disease, for example, congenital heart disease (a birth defect that affects the heart)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, for example, liver cirrhosis (when healthy tissue in the liver is destroyed and replaced by scar tissue)
  • diabetes
  • a suppressed immune system caused by a health condition such as HIV
  • a suppressed immune system caused by medication such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets
  • a cochlear implant (a small hearing device fitted inside your ear)
  • had cerebrospinal fluid (the clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spine) leaking from its usual position, for example, as the result of an accident or surgery

Booster doses of pneumococcal vaccine

If you are at increased risk of a pneumococcal infection you will be given the PPV vaccination just once and, generally, this will protect you for life.

However, if your spleen does not work properly or if you have a chronic kidney condition, you may need booster doses of PPV every five years. This is because your levels of antibodies against the infection will decrease over time.

What to do if you miss a dose of pneumococcal vaccine

If you or your child has missed a dose of pneumococcal vaccine, speak to your GP about when you can complete the course.

If your child is under the age of one and has missed a dose of the PCV vaccine, they can catch up on the remaining doses they need with two months between each dose.

If your child is over the age of one but under two years old and has missed a dose of the PCV vaccine, they will be given a single dose of the PCV vaccine.

If your child is over the age of two but under five years old and has missed a dose of the PCV vaccine, they may need a single dose of the PCV vaccine. However, this may only be recommended if your child is at high risk of pneumococcal infection.

Find out the reasons for having the pneumo jab.

Last Updated: 17/02/2022 16:08:44
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website