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What Are the Side Effects of the Pneumonia Vaccine?

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection caused by the bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae. Potential side effects of the pneumonia vaccine include injection site soreness, irritability, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and muscle aches. Pneumonia is an infection caused by the bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae. Potential side effects of the pneumonia vaccine include injection site soreness, irritability, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and muscle aches.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by common bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae). When these bacteria invade the lungs, they can cause pneumonia.Pneumonia can be serious — even deadly — especially for older people. Pneumonia often requires treatment in the hospital.

Pneumococcal disease causes thousands of infections every year in the United States. Though more common in children, it’s most likely to cause serious complications in adults. Fortunately, the pneumonia vaccine can help prevent pneumococcal disease from occurring at all.

What is the pneumonia vaccine?

The pneumonia vaccine is an injection that prevents you from contracting pneumococcal disease. There are two pneumococcal vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States:

  1. PCV13 — Prevnar 13®: This vaccine helps protect against the 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that most commonly cause serious infections in children and adults. Doctors give this vaccine to children at 12 through 15 months, 2, 4, and 6 years old. Adults who need this vaccine get just one shot.
  2. PPSV23 — Pneumovax23®: This vaccine helps protect against serious infections caused by 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Doctors give a single shot of this vaccine to people who need it, but the CDC recommends one or two additional shots for people with certain chronic medical conditions.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the PCV13 vaccine for:

  • All children younger than 2 years old
  • People 2 years or older with certain medical conditions

The CDC recommends PPSV23 for:

  • All adults 65 years or older
  • People 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions
  • Smokers 19 through 64 years old

Signs of pneumonia vaccine side effects 

As with any vaccination, there are potential side effects of the pneumonia vaccination. Common side effects include: 

Injection site soreness

As with most shots and vaccinations, you may experience pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site (typically your upper arm).


Less than 1% of people who receive a pneumonia vaccine develop a fever. If your temperature is above 100.4 F (38.0 C), you have a fever. 


Irritability is a feeling of agitation. When you're feeling irritable, you're more likely to become frustrated or upset. In children, this may present as fussiness. 

Loss of appetite

A loss or appetite might make you feel nauseous at the idea of eating food — or you might just not feel hungry. 

Fatigue/feeling tired

You may end up feeling lethargic or exhausted after the vaccination.


Common symptoms of headache include painful throbbing or pounding. The pain may be localized in one part of the face or skull, or felt around the whole head.

Muscle aches

The PPSV23 vaccine may cause muscle aches, but this symptom is only experienced in less than 1% of people.


Causes of pneumonia vaccine side effects

Many people experience pain at the injection site after getting the pneumonia vaccine. The pain you are experiencing is usually soreness of the muscle where the injection was given. Injection site pain and most other common side effects are actually a good sign; it indicates that your body is starting to build immunity against pneumococcal diseases.

More severe reactions to a pneumococcal vaccination means you are likely allergic to an ingredient in the vaccination. 

When to see the doctor for pneumonia vaccine side effects

Serious side effects after receiving the pneumonia vaccination are rare, but not impossible. Call your doctor if you experience the following:

Allergic reaction

Severe allergic reactions only occur in about one in a million shots. An allergic reaction to vaccinations typically happens within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the shot. Seek emergency medical attention at the first sign of an allergic reaction to the pneumonia vaccine. 

Feeling faint or dizzy

If you or your child feel dizzy, have vision changes or ringing in your ears, call your doctor.

Severe pain

Some people may experience severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving their arm after the pneumonia vaccine. Notify your doctor if this happens to you.


Treatments for pneumonia vaccine side effects

Side effects after receiving the pneumonia vaccine are usually mild. They typically resolve on their own within a few days. If you feel feverish, pain relievers and fever reducers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help.

If you experience any noticeable side effects, report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. In the rare event that the pneumonia vaccine causes a serious problem, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) may be able to offer financial help.

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