Facts vs. Myths: Pneumococcal disease
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You may be at higher risk than you think from bacteria that can lead to pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis.

The pneumococcal vaccine, sometimes called the "pneumonia vaccine," can help protect your child against certain diseases caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, including:

  • meningitis (a serious infection of the brain lining that can lead to deafness, brain damage, or death)
  • bacteremic pneumonia (a bacterial lung infection that can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest pain and lead to hospitalization and death)
  • bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream, which may build up and cause infections in different areas of the body)
  • sepsis (a serious condition that occurs when the whole body responds to a bacterial infection, causing rapid breathing and heart rate, organ shutdown, and dangerously low blood pressure; sepsis can be fatal)

Pneumococcal infection is spread by coughing, sneezing, direct personal contact (e.g., kissing), and saliva (through sharing things like food, water bottles, or toothbrushes).

There are over 90 different types of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, but only some of these cause serious illness.

Health Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that most infants and children receive 1 to 4 doses of the pneumococcal vaccine, depending on the age the vaccine was first given and on which vaccine was used.

Ask your child's health care professional when your child should receive the pneumococcal vaccine. For more information on childhood immunizations, see the immunization schedule for your province or territory.

The pneumococcal vaccine is not intended to be used for treatment of active infection, and it does not protect against types of pneumococcus bacteria that are not included in the vaccine. As with other vaccines, the pneumococcal vaccine may not protect 100% of people who have the vaccine, and it may cause side effects.

Your pneumococcal vaccine options
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There are important differences between the two pneumococcal vaccines for adults available in Canada.