The PCV used in the UK gives protection against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that all cause pneumococcal disease. There are over 90 different types of pneumococcal bacteria, and they cause a range of problems including ear infections and pneumonia (serious chest infections). Pneumococcal disease can also cause life-threatening conditions such as meningitis and septicamia (blood poisoning). Vaccines have been produced to protect against the types that cause the most disease.
The PCV can safely be given at the same time as other vaccines in the schedule (see the full UK routine schedule for details of the other vaccines). Read more about multiple vaccinations and why these are not a risk to your baby's immune system. There is a similar vaccine for older adults (the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine).
The vaccine does not contain any live bacteria and cannot cause pneumococcal disease.
The brand name of the PCV used in the UK is Prevenar 13 (see the Patient Information Leaflet).
Who should have the vaccine?
For babies born in the UK after 1st January 2020, the PCV is given at 12 weeks, followed by a booster at 12-13 months. Previously, the PCV was given to babies at 8 and 16 weeks, with a booster at 12-13 months of age. This change means that babies will now receive only two injections (instead of three) at the 8 and 16 week vaccination appointments. This change to the PCV schedule is due to the success of the pneumococcal vaccine programme. High uptake of the PCV has resulted in very low levels of disease caused by pneumococcal bacteria, and the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) agreed that one dose of the vaccine plus a booster should continue to provide good protection for children and the community. See the minutes from the JCVI meeting.
Pneumococcal vaccines are also recommended for people of all ages with some health conditions who are at greater risk of complications from pneumococcal disease. This includes people with: