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If you have a chronic disease or are 65 years and older, your immune system may be less efficient at fighting pneumococcal infections caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae.
To reduce your risk of being among thousands of Canadians hospitalized every year for these infections, consider getting vaccinated.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterium that can be found in the nose and throat of some healthy individuals. Most people do not become sick when they contract this bacterium but for individuals with decreased ability to fight off infections, this can lead to serious illness.
Streptococcus pneumoniae can target different parts of the body and range from mild cases such as ear infections (acute otitis media) and sinus infections (sinusitis) to very serious and even life-threatening cases affecting the:
The bacterium is transmitted from one person to another either by droplets released in the air when a person coughs or sneezes or through person-to-person oral contact.
The severity of a pneumococcal infection depends on the age and overall health of the person. For frail individuals, it can be very difficult for their weakened immune system to fight off the infection. This also puts them at an increased risk of these bacteria spreading throughout the entire body, thus causing serious complications such as meningitis and bacteremia. This is the case if you…
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: the conjugate vaccine and the polysaccharide vaccine.
|Conjugate Vaccine||Polysaccharide Vaccine|
|Protects against 13 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains||Protects against 23 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains|
|Administered to infants, young children, and adults 65 years or older.||Recommended for those 2 to 64 whose health places them at risk of complications.|
|Requires three doses for infants, one to two doses for younger children, and one dose for adults 65 years or older.||Only requires one dose. However, a booster is sometimes recommended after five years.|
It is also recommended that healthy people that are 65 years or older in most provinces get a single dose of the polysaccharide vaccine. All pneumococcal vaccines can be offered at the same time as annual flu shots.
The conjugate vaccine can be injected into the upper arm muscle while the polysaccharide vaccine can be injected either into the upper arm muscle or under the skin. Some people may experience pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, or may develop a slight fever after being vaccinated. These side effects can be eased by taking a pain killer like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You can also apply a numbing cream just prior to vaccination to decrease the pain where the needle enters the skin.
Many pharmacies offer vaccination services. Ask your pharmacist whether these services are available at your pharmacy. Alternatively, you may also consult a medical clinic or community healthcare centres.
Pneumococcal vaccination is offered free of charge to targeted groups in every Canadian province.
[UNIPRIX] - The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.