There are 4 groups of people who are advised to get vaccinated against pneumococcal infections:
- people aged 65 and over
- anyone from the ages of 2 to 64 with a health condition that increases their risk of pneumococcal infection
- anyone at occupational risk, such as welders
Babies and the pneumococcal vaccine
Babies are routinely vaccinated with a type of pneumococcal vaccine known as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) as part of their childhood vaccination programme.
Babies are usually given the PCV at:
- 12 weeks old
- 1 year old
Adults aged 65 or over and the pneumococcal vaccine
If you’re 65 or over, you should be offered a type of pneumococcal vaccine 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 vaccine is available on the NHS for children and adults aged from 2 to 64 years old who are at a higher risk of developing a pneumococcal infection than the general population.
This is generally the same people who are eligible for annual flu vaccination.
You’re considered to be at a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection if you have:
- had your spleen removed, your spleen does not work properly, or you’re at risk of your spleen not working properly in future (for example, if you have coeliac disease)
- a long-term respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- heart disease, such as congenital heart disease
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as liver cirrhosis
- a suppressed immune system caused by a health condition, such as HIV
- a suppressed immune system caused by medicines, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets
- a cochlear implant (a hearing device)
- had a leak of cerebrospinal fluid (the clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spine) – this could be the result of an accident or surgery
Adults and children who are severely immunocompromised (including anyone with leukaemia, multiple myeloma, genetic disorders affecting the immune system, or after a bone marrow transplant) usually have a single dose of PCV followed by PPV.
Welders and metal workers and the pneumococcal vaccine
Some people with an occupational risk are advised to have the pneumococcal vaccine, including those who work with metal fumes, such as welders.
Booster doses of pneumococcal vaccine
If you’re at increased risk of a pneumococcal infection, you’ll be given a single dose of the PPV vaccine.
But if your spleen does not work properly or you have a chronic kidney condition, you may need booster doses of PPV every 5 years.
This is because your levels of antibodies against the infection decrease over time.
Ask your GP surgery if you think you should have the pneumococcal vaccine booster. A GP will then decide if you should have it.
What to do if you miss a dose of pneumococcal vaccine
If you or your child has missed a routine dose of pneumococcal vaccine, speak to your GP surgery about when you can complete the course.