This is part of the ‘Health Academy Short Course’ series and provides clinicians with specific information related to the Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.
This course is suitable for all Registered Healthcare Professionals, including Nurses, Pharmacists and GPs that administer this vaccine in practice.
This ‘Short Course’ will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
The course will cover key details of the vaccine and the diseases that it protects against.
What Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is and what it is used for
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is a pneumococcal vaccine. Vaccines are used to protect against infectious diseases.
Pneumococci can cause infections of the lungs (especially pneumonia) and of the coverings over the
brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and in the blood (bacteraemia or septicaemia). The vaccine will
only be able to protect against pneumococcal infections that are due to the types of
these bacteria that are included in the vaccine. However, the 23 pneumococcal types in the vaccine
include those that cause almost all (about nine out of ten) infections caused by pneumococci.
When the vaccine is given, the body’s natural defences make antibodies that help to protect against pneumococcal infections.
Pneumococcal infections occur throughout the world and can occur in anyone at any age, but are most
• elderly people.
• people who have lost their spleen or whose spleen is not working.
• people who have low resistance to infections due to longstanding illnesses or infections (such as
heart disease, lung disease, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, liver disease or HIV infection).
• people who have low resistance to infections due to treatment that they have had for some
illnesses (such as cancer).
Pneumococcal infections of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) sometimes occur
after injuring and cracking the skull and very rarely after certain medical operations. The vaccine may
not be able to prevent all of these infections.
Also, pneumococcal infections can occur in the sinuses, ears, and in other parts of the body.