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Pneumovax Warnings and Precautions

Before receiving the Pneumovax vaccine, make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have ever had Guillain-Barré syndrome or any other serious reaction to a vaccine before. This vaccine may not be right for everyone. Warnings and precautions with Pneumovax also apply to people who are having chemotherapy or having their spleen removed -- in these cases, timing of the vaccination is critical.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

Before you receive Pneumovax® (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine), talk to your healthcare provider if you have:
  • Had any sort of a reaction to a vaccine before
  • A moderate or severe illness
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Chronic cerebrospinal fluid leakage due to a skull fracture, brain surgery, or any other cause
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
Make sure to tell the healthcare provider about any medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Pneumovax Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving Pneumovax include the following:
  • This vaccine may not be effective for preventing bacterial meningitis in individuals with chronic cerebrospinal fluid leakage, such as people with a skull fracture.
  • Pneumovax does not contain thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative. People who are concerned about exposure to this substance can be confident that this vaccine has no thimerosal -- not even trace amounts.
  • Some people also are concerned about the aluminum content of vaccines. This vaccine contains no aluminum. In addition, Pneumovax is not made from animal components or human fetal cell lines, unlike some vaccines.
  • You can receive Pneumovax if you have a mild illness, such as the common cold. However, it is usually best to postpone the vaccine in the case of a moderate or severe illness.
  • Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have ever had any serious reactions (including Guillain-Barré syndrome) to any vaccines before.
  • If you will be having chemotherapy, radiation, or a splenectomy (surgical removal of the spleen), appropriate timing of this vaccine is important. It should be given at least two weeks ahead of time, if possible.
  • Pneumovax is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means it is unknown if the vaccine is safe for use during pregnancy (see Pneumovax and Pregnancy).
  • As with most vaccines, Pneumovax is considered safe for breastfeeding women (see Pneumovax and Breastfeeding).
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Pneumovax Vaccine Information

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