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Pneumovax 23 Side Effects

Generic Name: pneumococcal 23-polyvalent vaccine

Note: This page contains side effects data for the generic drug pneumococcal 23-polyvalent vaccine. It is possible that some of the dosage forms included below may not apply to the brand name Pneumovax 23.

For the Consumer

Applies to pneumococcal 23-polyvalent vaccine: injectable solution

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive a booster dose, you will need to tell your doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with pneumococcal disease (such as pneumonia or meningitis) is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction while taking pneumococcal 23-polyvalent vaccine (the active ingredient contained in Pneumovax 23) hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • high fever (103 degrees or higher);

  • easy bruising or bleeding;

  • swollen glands with skin rash or itching, joint pain, and general ill feeling;

  • pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, confusion or weakness;

  • numbness or tingly feeling in your feet and spreading upward, severe lower back pain;

  • changes in behavior, problems with vision, speech, swallowing, or bladder and bowel functions; or

  • slow heart rate, trouble breathing, feeling like you might pass out.

Less serious side effects are more likely to occur, such as:

  • low fever (102 degrees or less), chills, tired feeling;

  • swelling, pain, tenderness, or redness anywhere on your body;

  • headache, nausea, vomiting;

  • joint or muscle pain;

  • swelling or stiffness in the arm or leg the vaccine was injected into;

  • mild skin rash; or

  • mild soreness, warmth, redness, swelling, or a hard lump where the shot was given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to pneumococcal 23-polyvalent vaccine: injectable solution


The most common adverse events were fever and injection site reactions.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Pain/soreness/tenderness (77.2%), swelling/induration (39.8%), erythema (34.5%)
Common (1% to 10%): Pruritus, ecchymosis
Rare (less than 0.1%): Injection site cellulitis
Postmarketing reports: Warmth at injection site, decreased limb mobility, peripheral edema in injected extremity[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (18.1%)
Frequency not reported: Cerebrovascular accident, lumbar radiculopathy
Postmarketing reports: Paresthesia, radiculoneuropathy, Guillain-Barre syndrome, febrile convulsion[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Asthenia/fatigue (17.9%)
Common (1% to 10%): Fever
Frequency not reported: Alcohol intoxication
Postmarketing reports: Malaise, increased C-reactive protein[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Myalgia (17.3%)
Common (1% to 10%): Chills, neck pain
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Back pain
Postmarketing reports: Arthralgia, arthritis[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Nausea, dyspepsia, diarrhea
Frequency not reported: Ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis
Postmarketing reports: Vomiting[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Upper respiratory infection, pharyngitis[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Anaphylactoid reactions, serum sickness, angioneurotic edema[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Lymphadenitis, lymphadenopathy, thrombocytopenia in patients with stabilized idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, hemolytic anemia in patients who have had other hematologic disorders, leukocytosis[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Cellulitis, rash, urticaria, cellulitis-like reactions, erythema multiforme[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Angina pectoris, heart failure, chest pain, myocardial infarction resulting in death[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Edema, diabetes[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Urinary retention[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

3. "Product Information. Pneumovax 23 (pneumococcal vaccine, polyvalent)." Merck & Co, Inc, West Point, PA.

It is possible that some side effects of Pneumovax 23 may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.