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Lung diseases

Reaction to pneumonia shot

07/30/2008

Question:

I received a pneumonia shot Monday at my local clinic. Tuesday I had general "fluish" conditions (sore joints, slight feverish- didn`t take my temp, and tiredness) but my arm that got the shot became swollen at the elbow and bicep and very sensitive and warm to the touch. I`ve never before had such a reaction to a shot or any medication. Now Wednesday I will make a point to see a doctor but it hasn`t gotten worse or abatted, about the same. Why would that joint at the elbow be so obviously affected while nothing throughout the rest of my system? Today I do not have feverish conditions by the way.

Answer:

Usually this is due to an immunologic reaction to the pneumonia vaccine. These are more common in persons who have recently had an infection from Strep pneumoniae (the bacteria that can cause pneumonia and against which the vaccine is directed). These reactions usually last for 2-3 days and can be treated with over the counter pain relievers for symptom relief. We normally recommend an initial pneumonia vaccine followed by a second "booster" vaccine in 5 years. If this is your second pneumococcal vaccine, then you likely will not require any more in the future. More rarely, an infection can occur at the site of the injection, but this is quite uncommon.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University