About pneumococcal disease and the vaccine
The pneumococcal vaccine protects against serious and potentially fatal pneumococcal infections. It's also known as the pneumonia vaccine.
Pneumococcal infections are caused by the streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria and is the most common cause of pneumonia. Bacteria can spread when a person with the infection coughs or sneezes.
Pneumococcal infections can also lead to septicaemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis. At their worst, they can cause permanent brain damage, or even kill.
Anybody can get pneumococcal disease, but some people have a higher risk of the infection or its complications than others.
Who should receive the pneumococcal vaccine
Those people at higher risk of pneumococcal infection are recommended to receive the pneumococcal vaccination.
- babies, the vaccine is routinely offered as part of the baby vaccination programme
- adults aged 65 or over
- anyone from the ages of 2 to 64 with a health condition that increases their risk of pneumococcal infection
Further information about who should have the pneumococcal vaccine on NHS Choices. If you are unsure if you need this vaccination, talk to your GP.
Pneumococcal vaccine for adults aged 65 or over
If you are 65 years 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.
The vaccine will be provided free of charge, but you are likely to be charged for the consultation. Check with your GP surgery how much you will be charged.
You still require the vaccination even if you have had pneumococcal disease in the past. This is because there is more than one type of pneumococcal bacteria and you can become infected with another type. Talk to your GP if you are unsure or you have questions.