Pneumovax 23® vaccine   

This product is manufactured by Merck Canada using the ingredient pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneu-P-23).

This product is taken via intramuscular or subcutaneous injection.

Why is it prescribed?

One dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine should be administered to all individuals 24 months of age and older who are at high risk of IPD due to an underlying medical condition or who are residents of long-term care facilities. People at highest risk of IPD should also receive 1 booster dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine.
One dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine is recommended for adults:

  • 65 years of age and older, regardless of risk factors or previous pneumococcal vaccination.
  • at high risk of IPD due to lifestyle factors: smokers, persons with alcoholism, persons who are homeless. Adults who use illicit drugs should be considered for Pneu-P-23 vaccination.


Pneumovax® 23 is a single injection vaccine that offers protection from 23 different types of pneumococcal (pneumonia) bacteria.
It is to be administered by a qualified health professional only.
The injection is given either s.c. (under the skin) or i.m. (into the muscle). 
Pnuemovax® 23 can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine. Both may be administered at separate sites with separate syringes. For most people, a single vaccination is adequate for a lifetime.
Pneumovax® 23 may not work for everybody.
If you are presently taking antibiotics for the prevention of a pneumococcal infection, you should continue to do so after immunization with Pneumovax® 23.
Pneumovax® 23 should be stored in the refrigerator 2 to 8 degrees centigrade). Do not freeze.


See other products used in the treatment of •pneumonia •

The dose is a single injection of 0.5 mL given subcutaneously or intramuscularly.  A second dose of the vaccine may be recommended at a later date if you are at high risk for a pneumococcal infection.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Pneu-P-23) is made up of 23 strains of inactivated pneumococcal (pneumonia) bacteria. When injected, this material in the body familiarizes the immune system to the pneumococcal bacteria. If the person is exposed to the bacteria again, the immune system can mount a quick, specific attack against the bacteria and ultimately resist infection. Protection offered by this vaccine is only against those strains of pneumococci from which the vaccine is prepared.

Along with its needed effects, this vaccine may cause some unwanted or undesirable effects. Generally, it is well tolerated and most children experience only minor unwanted effects. The frequency and severity of these effects depends mainly on the individual's susceptibility. Possible unwanted effects include:

  • soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site (usually lasts less than 48 hours)
  • soreness and/or hardness at the injection site (within 2 days of the vaccination)


  • low grade fever


  • rash
  • muscle/joint pain
  • high fever
  • life threatening allergic reaction (the doctor is prepared for this type of reaction)

People with impaired immune responsiveness, whether due to the use of immunosuppressive therapy (e.g. corticosteroids), a genetic defect, HIV infection, or other causes, may have a reduced response to this vaccine. This vaccine may not protect 100% of individuals receiving the vaccine.

As with other vaccines, the administration of Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine should be postponed in subjects suffering from acute severe febrile illness. However, the presence of a minor infection, such as a cold, should not result in the deferral of vaccination. 

Use is not recommended in the following situations:

  • prior severe allergic reaction to pneumococcal vaccine
  • allergy to any component of the vaccine

Use with caution in the following situations:

  • severe heart disease
  • severe lung disease
  • impaired immune response (the body's ability to fight infection)

Use in pregnancy: there is no evidence to suggest that the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine poses a risk to the fetus or to the pregnancy.

Use in breastfeeding: Breastfeeding women can be vaccinated with the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.

Page Last Updated: 05/10/2016