Te rongoā āraimate mate pneumococcal Pneumococcal vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine is free for all tamariki under 5. It protects against pneumococcal disease, which can cause a range of mild to life-threatening infections. The vaccine is given at 6 weeks, 5 months, and 12 months.

What it protects you from

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that live in your throat. These bacteria do not normally cause problems, but if they spread to other parts of the body they can make you very sick. Pneumococcal disease is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, and close contact.

Pneumococcal bacteria can cause minor infections, like:

  • sinusitis — infection of the sinuses
  • ear infections.

It can also lead to life-threatening conditions, like:

  • pneumonia
  • meningitis — an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord
  • septicaemia — blood poisoning.

Pneumococcal disease

When to get the vaccine

Routine childhood immunisations

The pneumococcal vaccine is offered to babies for free when they are 6 weeks, 5 months and 12 months old. To be fully protected, your baby needs 3 separate doses of this vaccine.

The pneumococcal vaccine is free for all children under 5.

High-risk groups outside the schedule

Pneumococcal immunisations are funded for children and adults with some medical conditions that increase their risk of getting sick.

Some of the conditions include people with:

  • cochlear implants
  • weakened immune system
  • heart conditions.

Pneumococcal immunisations, including extra doses, are also recommended for premature babies born before 28 weeks.

Your healthcare provider can tell you if you or your tamariki are included in this group.

Book your pneumococcal vaccine

Find out how to book an immunisation appointment or how to catch up on missed ones.

Which vaccine is used

In Aotearoa New Zealand we use the Prevenar 13® vaccine. This covers the 10 most common types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause disease in babies and young children.

It is given as an injection, normally into a muscle in the arm or leg.

Prevenar 13® information — Medsafe (PDF 126KB) (external link)

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and show that your child’s immune system is responding to the vaccine.

If your tamariki is going to have any reactions, they normally happen in the first few days after getting vaccinated. The vaccine itself is gone from your child's body within a few hours or days.

The most common reaction to an immunisation includes:

  • a slight fever
  • pain or swelling where the needle went in.

Other common reactions

Other common reactions of the pneumococcal vaccine include:

  • loss of appetite
  • sleeping more or less than usual.

Allergic reactions

Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 1 million people will experience this.

Your vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for and can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

Serious allergic reactions normally happen within the first few minutes of vaccination. This is why your tamariki need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.

More information

Find more information about common side effects, what to look for and how to report side effects.

Vaccine side effects, reactions and safety (external link)


Pneumococcal vaccine (Prevenar 13) is administered on the National Immunisation Schedule as a primary course at 6 weeks and 5 months of age, followed by a booster dose at 12 months of age.

Last updated: