Frequently Asked Questions--

Frequently Asked Questions---Pneumococcal Vaccination
What is pneumococcal infection?
Pneumococcal infection represents a wide range of diseases caused by the bacterium
Streptococcus pneumoniae (or more commonly referred as pneumococcus). There are over
90 serotypes of pneumococci. Pneumococcus is a common cause of mild illnesses such as
sinus or middle ear infections. It may also cause severe or even life-threatening diseases,
including pneumonia, septicaemia, and meningitis etc.
Invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPD) are defined as when pneumococcus invades
body parts which are usually bacteria-free, such as blood and the brain. The overall casefatality rate ranges from about 20% in pneumococcal bacteraemia to about 30% in
pneumococcal meningitis. The case fatality rate is substantially higher among elderly
How does pneumococcal disease spread?
Pneumococci are commonly found in the nose and throat of healthy people. They
mainly spread from one person to another through coughing, sneezing or direct close contact;
and via contact with articles soiled with sputum or nasal discharges.
What kinds of pneumococcal vaccines are there?
Currently Two different types of pneumococcal vaccine are available locally, namely
the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) and the 23-valent pneumococcal
polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV).
Who should get vaccinated?
The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases (SCVPD) has recommended
pneumococcal vaccination for the following target groups:
children aged between 6 weeks and less than 2 years
elders aged 65 years or above
persons aged 2 to 64 years who have history of clinical IPD, are
immunocompromised, have underlying chronic illnesses, or have cochlear
How much protection does it offer?
Pneumococcal vaccine is used for the prevention of infections, in particular IPD.
Observational studies suggest effectiveness as high as 50-80% against IPD in healthy adults.
How many doses of pneumococcal vaccine are required to complete a course?
The pneumococcal vaccine used in Residential Care Home Vaccination Programme
is 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (23vPPV). For people aged 65 or above
who have never received any pneumococcal vaccine or have received one dose of
pneumococcal vaccine before 65 years and more than 5 years earlier, only one single dose
of pneumococcal vaccine is required. For people of other age with at risk conditions, onetime revaccination may be considered 5 years after the first dose of pneumococcal vaccine.
Can pneumococcal vaccine be received together with influenze vaccine?
Yes. Pneumococcal vaccine can be given together with other vaccines, including
influenza vaccine, but should be administered with a different syringe and at a different site.
Why it is necessary for elderly to receive both influenza vaccine and pneumococcal
Vaccination with influenza vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine can prevent influenza
and its complications and hence lower the risk of hospitalization and mortality among
elderly people.
Who should not receive pneumococcal vaccination?
Severe allergic reaction following a prior dose of pneumococcal vaccine or to the
vaccine component is a contraindication to further doses of vaccine. It should not be given
during chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer. Individuals with bleeding disorders or
on warfarin may receive the vaccine by deep subcutaneous injection. Those who suffer
from an acute febrile illness on the day of vaccination may receive the vaccine when they
What are the possible side effects of the vaccine?
Pneumococcal vaccine is safe. Slight swelling and tenderness at the injection site may
occur shortly following injection. Local reactions are more severe following a second dose
but nearly all reactions resolve within a few days without treatment.