The pneumococcal vaccination protects against different types of pneumococci bacteria. That means it protects against some forms of meningitis, pneumonia, blood poisoning and middle ear infection. Children receive the pneumococcal vaccination at 3 months, 5 months and 11 months. 

The pneumococcal vaccination in summary

Protects against Pneumococcal infections
Given at 3 monts, 5 months and 11* months
* Children born from January 1, 2024 will receive the third vaccination at 12 months instead of 11 months
Period of protection At least 10 years
Most common side effects Fever, crying, vomiting, sleepiness, diarrhoea, not drinking well and symptoms at the injection site, such as a red, swollen or painful arm

Side effects of the pneumococcal vaccination

When? Most side effects occur within a day after vaccination and are gone within a couple of days.
Happens often

Fever, crying, vomiting, sleepiness, diarrhoea, not drinking well and symptoms at the injection site, such as a red, swollen or painful arm.

Happens sometimes
  • About 1 in 10,000 babies become suddenly unresponsive. They go limp and look very pale. This is called a collapse. It looks scary, but it generally goes away on its own within 6 to 30 minutes. It is not dangerous, and mostly occurs after the first vaccine dose in this series.

  • In addition, 1 in 10,000 babies may have discoloured areas on their legs. This is when all or part of the legs show red, blue or grey discolouration. The discoloured area may be puffy and warm, or cold to the touch. This also looks scary, but it goes away on its own. It is not dangerous, and mostly occurs after the first vaccine dose in this series.

  • The baby may also have a febrile seizure, often within 1 day after vaccination (1 in 10,000 children, mostly after the vaccination at 11 months). This can happen if a fever rises very fast. The child may twitch or shake their arms and legs, or become unconscious

Good to know Your child cannot infect others after the pneumococcal vaccination.

Nervous about side effects

When your newborn child gets their first vaccinations, you may feel uneasy. There may be side effects. It is good to know that the vaccinations given through the National Immunisation Programme are given in many other countries as well. Studies from all those countries show that these vaccinations are safe. There are no known long-term negative effects. 

The pneumococcal vaccine contains parts of 10 types of the bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease. These parts have been made harmless and cannot make you ill. 

The page ‘What is in vaccines?’ provides more information on what is in vaccines. The page ‘How does vaccination work?’ provides information on how vaccinations work.

If you are planning a trip outside the Netherlands, you usually do not need to have your child vaccinated early (before the recommended age) – unless that country has a high risk of infectious diseases. Will you be travelling abroad for a short trip or a longer period, and does your child need vaccinations? Check with the youth healthcare services (JGZ) if you need to adjust your child’s vaccination schedule. 

Do you have questions about vaccinations that you need for a trip outside the Netherlands? Consult the National Coordination Centre for Travellers Advice (LCR) website (in Dutch). The LCR website includes information on which vaccinations are advisable and where to make an appointment in your area.

If your child is ill, please contact the organisation that will give the vaccination. They can tell you if it is a good idea to get the vaccination right now. Sometimes the vaccination may be postponed for a bit. The vaccination is safe for children with reduced immunity. 

Can children with impaired immunity get the pneumococcal vaccination?

The pneumococcal vaccination is extra important for children with reduced immunity as a result of disease or medication. The vaccination is safe for children with impaired immunity, but it may be less effective. Children with these health conditions always have their case supervised by a treating paediatrician, who can provide more information.