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Pneumococcal Vaccine for Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is the pneumococcal vaccine?

The pneumococcal vaccine is an injection given to protect your child from pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease develops from an infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The infection may cause pneumonia or an ear infection. Pneumococcal disease is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The vaccine comes in 2 forms, called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV). Your child's healthcare provider will tell you which form is right for your child.

Recommended Pneumococcal Immunization Schedule

Who should get the pneumococcal vaccine?

  • Children usually receive up to 4 doses of PCV:
    • The first dose at 2 months
    • The second dose at 4 months
    • The third dose at 6 months
    • The fourth dose at 12 to 15 months
  • Children 16 months to 5 years can get PCV to complete the vaccination series.
  • Children 5 to 17 years who have certain medical conditions can get 1 dose of PCV, if needed. Your child's healthcare provider can tell you if your child should get this dose of PCV.
  • Children at high risk for pneumococcal disease may need 1 or 2 doses of PPSV. If your child needs 2 doses of the vaccine, the second dose is given 8 weeks after the first dose. Any of the following can increase your child's risk:
    • Long-term heart or lung disease
    • Diabetes
    • A cerebrospinal fluid leak
    • A cochlear implant
    • Sickle cell disease
    • A damaged or removed spleen
    • HIV infection
    • Liver disease, kidney failure, or cancer
    • An organ transplant or weak immune system

What happens if my child misses a dose of the pneumococcal vaccine?

Your child will need 1 dose if he or she is 2 to 5 years old and is not completely vaccinated. If your child misses a scheduled dose, the remaining doses should still be completed. Ask your child's healthcare provider when to return for the next dose.

Who should not get the pneumococcal vaccine or should wait to get it?

  • Your child should not get the vaccine if he or she has had an allergic reaction to the vaccine or to a vaccine for diphtheria, such as DTaP, Tdap, or Td. Tell your child's healthcare provider if he or she had an allergic reaction to any other vaccine. Also tell the provider if your child has any serious allergies.
  • Your child should wait to get the vaccine if he or she is sick or has a fever.
  • Your young child should wait to get the pneumococcal vaccine if he or she is scheduled to get the influenza (flu) vaccine. Your child's provider can help you schedule the pneumococcal and flu vaccines.
  • Your older child may need to wait to get the vaccine if she is pregnant. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the risks of this vaccine. Your provider can tell you if your child is at high risk for pneumococcal infection and when to get the vaccine if she is already pregnant.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What are the risks of the pneumococcal vaccine?

The area where the vaccine was given may be red, tender, or swollen. Your child may get a fever and be fussy or irritable. He or she may have a decreased appetite. Your child may still get pneumococcal disease, even after he or she gets the vaccine. Your child may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child's mouth and throat are swollen.
  • Your child is wheezing or has trouble breathing.
  • Your child has chest pain or says his or her heart is beating fast.
  • Your child faints.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child's face is red or swollen.
  • Your child has hives that spread over his or her body.
  • Your child says he or she feels weak or dizzy.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Your child has increased pain, redness, or swelling around the area where the shot was given.
  • You have questions or concerns about the pneumococcal vaccine.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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