Pneumonia Vaccine Side Effects

Pneumococcal Vaccine Side Effects

The most common pneumococcal vaccine side effects are drowsiness, loss of appetite, arm soreness or swelling, fever, and headache. In rare cases, it causes severe allergic reactions.

What are pneumococcal vaccine names?

  • Pneumovax23® — Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)
  • Prevnar13® — Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)

How is the vaccine given?

Pneumovax23 is given in a single 0.5-mL injection in the arm or thigh. It is approved for use in people 50 years of age or older, and people over 2 years old who are at increased risk for pneumococcal disease.

Prevnar13 is given in a series of 0.5-mL injections. Children 6 weeks through 5 years old receive a 4-dose immunization series, consisting of 0.5-mL intramuscular injections administered at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months of age. Children 6 to 17 years of age receive a single dose.

Can the vaccine cause pneumonia?

No. Pneumococcal vaccines are inactivated, meaning they contain only parts of the bacteria, or they are designed to trick the immune system into thinking a protein in the vaccine is the bacteria. The vaccines can’t cause pneumococcal infections.

What are common side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine?

The most common side effects of Pneumovax23 are injection-site pain or soreness (60%), swelling or lump (20%), headache (17.6%), weakness and fatigue (13%), muscle aches (12%), and fever (1.4%).

For Prevnar13, the most common side effects depended on the age of the patient:

  • Infants and toddlers vaccinated at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months of age: Irritability (>70%), injection site tenderness (>50%), decreased appetite (>40%), decreased sleep (>40%), increased sleep (>40%), fever (>20%), injection site redness (>20%), and injection site swelling (>20%).
  • Children aged 5 through 17 years: Injection site tenderness (>80%), injection site redness (>30%), injection site swelling (>30%), irritability (>20%), decreased appetite (>20%), increased sleep (>20%), fever (>5%), and decreased sleep (>5%).
  • Adults aged 18 years and older: Pain at the injection site (>50%), fatigue (>30%), headache (>20%), muscle pain (>20%), joint pain (>10%), decreased appetite (>10%), injection site redness (>10%), injection site swelling (>10%), limitation of arm movement (>10%), vomiting (>5%), fever (>5%), chills (>5%), and rash (>5%).

What are severe side effects of the pneumococcal vaccine?

Some people have severe pain in the shoulder and have problems moving the arm where the shot was given. This is called Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA) and it is caused by the vaccine needle accidentally hitting ligaments, tendons, or bursa.

Vaccines can cause a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The risk is estimated at about 1 in a million doses of the pneumococcal vaccine. Symptoms may include swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, dizziness or weakness.

Apnea (temporarily stop breathing) has been reported in some premature infants who received intramuscular vaccines.

What other side effects have been reported?

The following side effects were reported in people who received Pneumovax23, but it is unknown if they were caused by the vaccine:

  • Anaphylactoid reactions
  • Angioneurotic edema
  • Arthralgia
  • Arthritis
  • Cellulitis
  • Decreased limb mobility
  • Erythema Multiforme
  • Febrile convulsion (high fever causing seizure)
  • Fever over 102ºF
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Hemolytic anemia in patients who have had other hematologic disorders
  • Increased serum C-reactive protein
  • Leukocytosis
  • Lymphadenitis
  • Lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes)
  • Malaise (generally feeling sick)
  • Nausea
  • Paresthesia
  • Peripheral edema in the injected limb
  • Radiculoneuropathy
  • Rash
  • Seizure
  • Serositis (autoimmune inflammatory disease)
  • Serum Sickness
  • Thrombocytopenia in patients with stabilized idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Vomiting

The following side effects were reported in people who received Prevnar13, but it is unknown if they were caused by the vaccine:

  • Anaphylactoid reactions
  • Anaphylactic shock
  • Angioneurotic edema
  • Apnea
  • Cyanosis (low oxygen levels or “Blue Baby Syndrome”)
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Erythema Multiforme
  • Hypotonia
  • Lymphadenopathy localized to the region of the injection
  • Pallor (paleness)
  • Vaccination-site dermatitis, pruritus, and urticaria

Where can I get more information?

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