Pneumovax Vaccination - a good idea or not? - Thyroid UK

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Pneumovax Vaccination - a good idea or not?


After moving house, I have signed on at a new surgery but have not met my new GP yet. I have had a letter from the surgery saying my GP 'strongly recommends' that I have this vaccination, which I had not heard of. I'm not going to do anything until I have actually seen him and asked him more about it, but wonder if anybody else has had it and if it is a good idea or not.

I seem to overreact wildly to everything and am worried about anything that might make me feel worse. Particularly with something like a vaccination - once it's in you can't get it out again. But on the other hand the nasties it's supposed to protect against are pretty bad too. Potentially fatal in fact.

I've never had a flu jab because I've heard people say they feel a darn sight worse after having it, so I wondered what you clever people on here have to say about it.

The quote from the letter says 'The Department of Health recommends that all patients over the age of 65 (gimme a break I'm not quite there yet), OR those with chronic respiratory or heart problems, patients with shunt, renal or liver disease, diabetes or are immunocompromised, are offered a Pneumovax vaccination in order to significantly help to prevent pneumonia, septicaemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis'.

Those words 'The Department of Health recommends' don't fill me with any confidence if their thyroid knowledge is anything to go by :-)

I've done a bit of Googling and can't find anything much actually against it - it's supposed to help protect against 23 different strains of bacteria, which were previously treated with penicillin but have become resistant. But wouldn't that mean they are shooting you with (albeit dead) 23 different lots of 'stuff'? I'm wary, but on the other hand, at least they're offering something, which makes a change. It does say don't have it if you are allergic to anything in it - but hello - how can you know if you're allergic until it's too late?

With this wretched HypoT thing, nothing seems to act in the way that it should, so I would appreciate any views before I trot obediently up to the surgery to have the shot. Many thanks in advance.

Kanga x

22 Replies

I don't "do" vaccinations - In 1999 I had a tetanus booster (at a well woman screening haha) and 10 days later I was paralysed with guillain barre syndrome.

It is impossible for anyone to advise, you need to make your own decision.


Kangagirl in reply to Chippysue

Thanks Suze - that sounds terrible, I'm going to have to look up guillain barre syndrome. I don't normally 'do' vaccinations either - they also asked me if I had had at least 5 tetanus injections, and I thought on your bike if you think I'm going to do that. Or the flu vaccination. But funnily enough I had just been reading something about septicaemia and how quickly it can kill.

I know I have to make up my own mind - I just thought it might be useful to get a general consensus of opinion beforehand rather than rush into it.

Kangagirl in reply to Kangagirl

Suze, that doesn't just sound awful, it IS awful. I hope you were able to fully recover.

What's the bet you'll be refused allergy testing for the ingredients or the GP even knows what's in the injection?

Kangagirl in reply to Clutter

Absolutely agree, Clutter. They always ask 'are you allergic to penicillin?' - well how are you supposed to know? My late father came up in great big purple blotches when they gave it to him in hospital during his last illness, so they give me something else to be on the safe side. I don't do very well on antibiotics though, and try to avoid them if I can.

Big Pharma make billions from medication and vaccinations so it's a shame a gp isn't the best person to ask for advice :-(

Quite so. I'm sure he'll say have it, no matter what. But I'm certainly not going to do anything until I've at least met him and tried to find out if it's the same old story with the thyroid as far as he's concerned ie, 'levothyroxine works for everybody', 'it's entirely natural' and 'never heard of NDT', and whether he's an arrogant ass or at least reasonable and prepared to listen to my concerns. In other words somebody I feel I can trust who also trusts me. Ha ha. Well, I live in hope until proved wrong!

My last GP (we've moved twice in the past year) was really nice, except she didn't know what to do for me any more than I do. I respected her more for admtting that, than if she had insisted that levo was the answer to everything. She said that my bad reaction to levo after 12 years on it sounded as though I was thyrotoxic, which is a word I've never heard from any other GP! I don't know if I would go as far as saying it was a thyrotoxic attack, I think I would have been much more ill if it was, but it was still quite bad enough thanks.

She referred me to an NHS endo back in January, and the appointment is in June! I'm not expecting anything from that, so wasn't bothered that it was going to take 6 months. In fact if they start talking about antidepressants and going back on levo they won't see my backside for dust. :-D Still, positve attitude, they might come up with something useful, though I'm not holding my breath.

At the moment I'm inclined not to have the jab, but need to think about it some more. A shame I'm too far away to see the lovely private endo I used to go to.


Hi If you do have any of the listed conditions it really is worth having I believe.Its one that does give very good protection in those r instances,if not I would say probably don't need it.could just be they have written to you by mistake _that happens!!!

Ask gp for clarification.

Kangagirl in reply to Hidden

Hi cupi - the thing is, I don't have any of those conditions (as far as I know, there could be something lurking I suppose). I don't even quite make the age thing, though not far off - not quite sure how that happened :-(

I wondered if it was a computer generated thing that every new patient gets sent - it was definitely addressed to me with my name on it, and signed by the 'Nursing Services Co-ordinator'. It says if I need more info I can call NHS Direct, but I've found them to be about as useful as a chocolate teapot. I just don't believe or trust any of them, which is an awful thing to say.

Anyway, another reason to wait until I've at least met the new GP before deciding.


I wouldn't have a vaccination until it had been in use for quite some time. Just in case complications arise. I wont have 'flue jabs.

Personally, now that I have 3 autoimmune conditions, I wouldn't expose myself to introducing into my system another potential problem.

Obviously, in the past we have to be grateful we have eradicated polio, TB, smallpox etc.

This is re 'flu vaccine.

Kangagirl in reply to shaws

Shaws, I do feel a bit like you. I feel as if I'm being poisoned anyway a lot of the time, and very wary of introducing something else which might cause complications. I guess for a well person it wouldn't pose problems, but with the havoc HypoT causes, who knows how one is going to react?

I don't know how longstanding the Pneumovax jab is - I hadn't heard of it before but that odoesn't mean anything.

I'm always glad I don't have to make the decision whether to give a baby the MMR vaccination or not, because I would probably say not when they are so young. My argument has always been why can't they have the jabs separately, but that's another argument.

shawsAdministrator in reply to Kangagirl

I agree re separate jabs.

I had the injection last November I have copd and my gp recommend that I had it I must say I was fine while my family suffered with the usual winter bugs I caught nothing I also have graves disease celiacs and ostioparosis I will be going bk for the sam this year it's the first year I have not been in hospital in winter x

Kangagirl in reply to boltbag

Hi boltbag - that's good to hear, it certainly seems to have been the right thing for you. Interesting to hear that it didn't mess you up with regard to your other conditons, particularly Graves and Coeliac.

Both my husband and myself had a horrible cough/cold/flu thing during the winter - he very generously gave it to me - and it's the worst I've felt (in a cough/cold/flu way) since about 1980 when I had bronchitis for the first and I hope the only time. (I'd had a cough for 5 weeks that the doc wouldn't do anything for and ended up with bronchitis).

Pat hadn't had a day off sick in two years, yet as soon as he stopped teaching and being surrounded by germy teenagers, he caught the wretched lurgy and passed it on to me. And it took me twice as long as him to get over it.

This is the other side of the coin and makes it very difficult to decide! A no-brainer for you though :-)


Hi KG, you may find this helpful -

Kangagirl in reply to Hidden

Hi Humphrey, thank you for the link. I had looked at some other similar sites but nothing that gave as much info as this one. 'Don't have it if you have been unwell recently'...well, is HypoT classed as 'not being well'? I certainly don't FEEL well, but does that count? And the reports of side effects don't exactly inspire confidence, although I realise that these may only be in the minority. I would bet my boots that I would be one of the minority :-D

I have had bad reactions to other things (levo to name but one!) - allergic or what I don't know. I had frozen shoulder twice in four years - not both sides at once thank goodness, because it was agony. After about a year of not being able to use my right arm, useless physio and just getting worse, the only thing that worked was a steroid injection - my GP got it in the wrong spot, but the specialist got it right the second time, and although it took a few days to work it was heaven. That was pre-HyoT. My shoulder will never really be 100% but I can live with it.

Then four years later the other one started to go, so I went early to the doc and said forget messing about with physio - gimme the injection. Which they duly did - it didn't work the first time, so off to the specialist. As I had already had 3 injections over a period of years with absolutely no ill effects whatsoever, I wasn't a bit worried, but 10 minutes after the shot, I turned green and went down like a sack of spuds. Had to be carried back to his room and laid on the couch like a grilled pork chop with a sick bowl on my chest for 4 hours until OH could come and pick me up. Felt bad for days - though the shoulder did get better.

I also have to have different dental anaesthetic from the norm because out of the blue the regular stuff made my heart go like a runanway steam hammer and I felt really sick, with legs like rubber when I tried to get off the chair. The first time that happened (again pre-HypoT) I thought I was about to die. They didn't have an answer at the time, but I gather it's apparently the adrenalin they put in it to lessen the bleeding. So probably not an allergic reaction as such but very unpleasant. Now I'm always terrified they'll forget to give me the other stuff or not believe me. I've also had three short term general anaesthetics in my life, and each time the after effects have been worse than the one before, so vowed to never have another unless it was a case of having to.

All this was pre-HypoT, when I was in much better shape generally than I am now. So goodness knows how that would complicate things, if at all. I know it's up to me in the long run, and my first instinct was to say no thanks - but there's always that lingering 'what if' when you think of the nasties it's supposed to combat.

Unfortunately once you've had it, you can't change your mind and say 'take it out, I made a mistake'.


Hidden in reply to Kangagirl

Don't be too sure that the frozen shoulder and other ailments requiring steroid injections were 'pre hypo'. This sort of pain is a well known symptom of being hypo. My feet! I've been to the NHS podiatrist twice and a private one before that - and none of them (even the blessed steroid injection) has been of any lasting help. Before the feet golfer's shoulder and a thumb with tendonitis that would make me swear like a navvy if I so much as touched it. I still have tennis elbow in both elbows. It's a thyroid thing as far as I'm concerned.

Do tell your doctor what you've told us re being hypo = 'not well'. Thyroidism is a disease. One that affects every bit of us. For which treatment is ... limited (apparently, according to the NHS). So you sure don't want to make it worse!

All luck to you.

Kangagirl in reply to Hidden

Thank you for your good wishes Humphrey. I know now that things like frozen shoulder and migraine are also autoimmune, as is thyroid disease. I should have said that it was pre HypoT diagnosis. I didn't have any hypo symptoms and hadn't lost 99% of my body hair, or have all the other nasties at that time! I was abysmally ignorant about all things thyroid (perhaps I should have been a GP), until the levo bit me on the bum and I discovered this site. In fact I didn't feel anything like I do now, but of course it might have been thryroid related, I will never know now.

At the time I put it down to years of hauling around huge art portfolios that weighed as much as I did, and the final insult was making a mosaic the size of a king sized bed which involved lot of tile cutting and repetitive movement of the arm and shoulder.

I was just so relieved to get relief, particularly the first time, as it had been dragging on for a year and I literally could not move my right arm an inch in any direction at all without being in utter agony. It was also impossible to lie down as for some reason this made the pain a lot worse, and trying to sleep sitting up was a nightmare. It was all well and truly frozen and I had to write left handed for a year, as even tiny finger movements were all but impossible.

The only thing that helped in any shape or form was running a hot shower over my arm and shoulder - which I couldn't do myself, so picture me yelling 'get it off!' - (my sweater or shirt) when the pain got so bad I couldn't stand it, and my poor husband trying to tear my clothes off without jarring my arm. :-D Too Much Information, eh?Unfortunately I couldn't stay in the shower 24/7.

I'm sorry to hear that you are having so many probems with pain. I can certainly understand how much it wears you down. Been there, got several tee shirts as most of us probably have.

I will try and get through to my doctor how unwell I've been feeling, even if it isn't the cold or flu they seem to be talking about when they say 'if you've been ill recently'. I'm certainly not going to sleepwalk my way into this wthout discussing it first.

Thanks for your interest and good luck.

Hi Kanga,

In my experience, this vaccination has been nothing but beneficial to me and my family.

Because of our health issues, my mother (now 77), my 21year old daughter and I have all had the vaccine and have the flu jab each year as well. There were no adverse reactions at all. Of course, everyone's different and will respond differently to the jabs.

Prior to having the pneumo jab, my mother was prone to bouts of pneumonia and other viruses, one of which virtually took her out. Since having the jab (almost four years ago - it lasts for ten years), she's had the odd cold and sniffle and one or two mild viruses, but has generally been incredibly fit and well comparatively.

I completely understand your reluctance to have anything put into your body that you do not have full and clear information about and I trust that your doctor or practice nurse will be able to get you the information you need. Conversely, you could try the 'interweb' - I'm sure there'll be lots of information out there in the ether - especially from those who've had bad experiences.

Suffice to say, it's been one of the better decisions for our family so just wanted you to know to hopefully assist you in making an informed choice.

Wishing you the best possible health management and enough feedback to enable you to make a decision you're comfortable with.

Kangagirl in reply to Reykua

Thank you Reykua, I appreciate your input. It's so true that we are all different and will react differently to all sorts of things. I can quite see how it would be of benefit to those who regularly get sick with pneumonia and other viruses, and am glad to hear how much it has helped you and your family.

I am hoping my GP or the nurse will be able to give me some more information other than just 'have it'. Most of what I've looked at on the 'interweb' has said more or less the same thing - they list the commonest side efects as redness and soreness at the site of the injection, flu-like symptoms and headache - which of course could be quite mild but could also be pretty awful!

GPs do tend to somewhat understate the side effects of things - I remember when I had something wrong in an area I won't mention by name :-) they said we have a tablet you can take, but it might give you 'a little bit of a headache'. I said if you mean screaming migraine, don't bother, as I already get those. There was no comment to this, but I was issued with a cream instead!

Of course the opposite is also true. If we dare to mention T3 or NDT for our HypoT, you would think we were asking for rat poison. Can't win...


I think the pneumonia jab is potentially cruel and foolish. I worked as a nurse for many years where pneumonia was always know as the old mans freind. The only people who got it were very frail with muliple illnesses like dementia, stroke etc and it brought an end to what was probably a living hell for these old people. This jab just makes very sick unhappy people live longer. There seems to be an emphasis on making people live longer and longer with no concern for quality of life. I would not ever have this jab I am not that frightened of death that I would avoid it at all costs.

Kangagirl in reply to Hidden

Thank you for putting your point of view mandyjane. I do agree that it's not right to prolong the agony of people who are in very dire straights and have no quality of life, although I don't know that the ONLY people to get pneumonia, septicaemia or meningitis are old and frail people with multiple illnesses like dementia, stroke etc. Though I imagine they are more susceptible, particularly to pneumonia. As you were a nurse, you will know a great deal more than I do.

I think the idea of the Pneumovax vaccination (as with other vaccinations) is protection or prevention rather than cure, and they are offering it to those over the age of 65 and/or those at risk because they have other conditions. I don't know that the vaccine would help cruelly prolong the life of somebody who was already very sick.

If it was just a matter of being a certain age, with no worries about allergic reactions or what effect the HypoT will have - if any - I would have it. I'm just worried about having something that will make me feel worse or cause even more unwanted complications.

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