Everything You Need To Know About The Pneumonia Vaccine For Seniors
Medically reviewed by Dr. Nick Rosen, MD on October 12th, 2020
Influenza , coronavirus , and allergies arent the only respiratory illnesses or infections to stress about this fall seasonespecially if you have underlying health concerns, are immunocompromised, or are an at-risk adult over the age of 65. For these individuals, pneumococcal disease and other relative conditions are also cause for concern. Why? For seniors, the risk of contracting pneumonia is exceptionally higher and much more common when the weather is changing. Due to the high risk level, its strongly encouraged that adults age 65 and over receive the pneumonia vaccineyes, it exists! In this article, DispatchHealth is covering everything you need to know about the pneumococcal vaccine for seniors, including what it is and the benefits of receiving it.
Adults At High Risk Of Ipd
Adults with immunocompromising conditions resulting in high risk of IPD, except HSCT, should receive 1 dose of Pneu-C-13 vaccine followed at least 8 weeks later by 1 dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine, if not previously received. The dose of Pneu-C-13 vaccine should be administered at least 1 year after any previous dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Refer to Immunocompromised persons for information about immunization of HSCT recipients.
Immunocompetent adults with conditions or lifestyle factors resulting in high risk of IPD should receive 1 dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine, if not previously received. One dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine is also recommended for all adults who are residents of long-term care facilities and should be considered for individuals who use illicit drugs.
Some experts also suggest a dose of Pneu-C-13 vaccine, followed by Pneu-P-23 vaccine, for immunocompetent adults with conditions resulting in high risk of IPD as this may theoretically improve antibody response and immunologic memory. However, Pneu-P-23 vaccine is the vaccine of choice for these individuals, and if only one vaccine can be provided, it should be Pneu-P-23 vaccine, because of the greater number of serotypes included in the vaccine.
Adults at highest risk of IPD should also receive 1 booster dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine refer to Booster doses and re-immunization.
Table 4 – provides recommended schedules for adult immunization with pneumococcal vaccines.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Pneumococcal Immunisation
All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time theyre not.
For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.
Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of pneumococcal vaccines, or if you or your child have symptoms after having a pneumococcal vaccine that worry you.
Common side effects of pneumococcal vaccines include:
- pain, redness and swelling where the needle went in
- reduced appetite
- body aches.
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Medical Conditions Resulting In High Risk Of Ipd
Table 1: Medical Conditions Resulting in High risk of IPD
IPD is more common in the winter and spring in temperate climates.
Spectrum of clinical illness
Although asymptomatic upper respiratory tract colonization is common, infection with S. pneumoniae may result in severe disease. IPD is a severe form of infection that occurs when S. pneumoniae invades normally sterile sites, such as the bloodstream or central nervous system. Bacteremia and meningitis are the most common manifestations of IPD in children 2 years of age and younger. Bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common presentation among adults and is a common complication following influenza. The case fatality rate of bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia is 5% to 7% and is higher among elderly persons. Bacterial spread within the respiratory tract may result in AOM, sinusitis or recurrent bronchitis.
Worldwide, pneumococcal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. The World Health Organization estimates that almost 500,000 deaths among children aged less than 5 years are attributable to pneumococcal disease each year. In Canada, IPD is most common among the very young and adults over 65 years of age.
How Dispatchhealth Is Improving Healthcare
While pneumococcal vaccines can protect at-risk individuals from getting pneumonia and developing extreme complications from other respiratory infections, contraction can still happen. For seniors, in particular, pneumonia can be life threateningespecially in those with chronic conditions . Pneumonia can also occur post infection, developing after the flu or COVID-19making it important for at-risk adults to watch for symptoms.
If you do have symptoms, reach out to DispatchHealth for on-demand services that come to you. We provide an urgent healthcare alternative for those with chronic conditions and acute medical concerns, treating a variety of health complications in the comfort of the home. Our medical teams will come prepared with nearly all the tools and technologies found in a traditional ER setting, but without the disruptive or impersonal medical experience. Whats more, our streamlined service is compatible with most insurancesincluding Medicaid and Medicareand we offer an affordable flat rate for uninsured patients.
This flu season, you can count on DispatchHealth. We can also test for COVID-19 as well as treat and support COVID-19 patients. To request care, simply contact us via phone, mobile app, or through our website.
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Effectiveness Of The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Children respond very well to the pneumococcal vaccine.
The introduction of this vaccine into the NHS childhood vaccination schedule has resulted in a large reduction in pneumococcal disease.
The pneumococcal vaccine given to older children and adults is thought to be around 50 to 70% effective at preventing pneumococcal disease.
Both types of pneumococcal vaccine are inactivated or “killed” vaccines and do not contain any live organisms. They cannot cause the infections they protect against.
Will Being Vaccinated Against Flu Pneumonia And Shingles Help Prevent Covid
The short answer is no. But reducing your risk for getting sick with the flu, pneumonia, or shingles which is what these vaccines do makes a lot of sense during the pandemic, Privor-Dumm says.
Lowering your risk for vaccine-preventable diseases will help you avoid doctors offices and hospitals, which will reduce any potential exposure to the coronavirus, Privor-Dumm adds.
Plus, Privor-Dumm says, Preventing serious disease can help keep you out of the hospital at a time when health resources may be needed to treat COVID-19 patients.
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The Shot: Pneumonia Vaccine
How often: Depends on your health status.
What to expect: There are two versions of the vaccine PPSV23 and PCV13. Your health status and any underlying conditions determine which version you need, the number of doses, and the timeline that you should receive those doses.
The pneumonia vaccines, PCV13 and PPSV23, prevent infections that can occur from 13 to 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria respectively the efficiency of these vaccines range from 45% to 75%. The pneumonia vaccines are really most relevant for folks who are either older adultswe typically think people more than the age of 50 to 65, or those who are immunosuppressed, Dr. Wolfe says.
Most likely, you will only get the pneumonia shot once in your adulthood or, depending on your longevity, once every five years. They’re obviously less frequent. It’s a good conversation I think people should have with their physician as it comes into September or October and things are starting to cool down, Dr. Wolfe says.
Vaccines For Children Program
The Vaccines for Children Program provides vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. A child is eligible if they are younger than 19 years old and meets one of the following requirements:
- American Indian or Alaska Native
If your child is VFC-eligible, ask if your doctor is a VFC provider. For help in finding a VFC provider near you, contact your state or local health departments VFC Program Coordinator or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO .
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Is A Pneumonia Shot Necessary For Seniors
The CDC recommends anyone 65+ get a pneumonia shot annually. However, the most direct answer will come from your primary care doctor. They know your medical history and risks better than anybody. Heed their advice on whether a pneumonia shot is necessary for you.
You cant get pneumonia from the vaccine, and less than one percent of those who get it get side effects, such as sore muscles, loss of appetite, or a mild fever.
Who Should Not Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
Again, its best to determine this with your doctor, but as a general rule the CDC states you should not get the pneumococcal vaccine if:
- You or your child has had a severe or life-threatening allergy to the current PCV13 or Prevnar 13®) vaccine, the past PCV7 vaccine or any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid.
- You or your child are currently battling a severe illness.
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Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Adults And Seniors
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get additional free annual influenza vaccines and pneumococcal vaccine at 50 years of age through the National Immunisation Program.
Please see your doctor for advice on what you may need.
Generally, adults wont need boosters. We recommend you talk to your doctor if you are not sure:
- if you have had all the recommended vaccines
- if may need boosters
- if someone in your care may need additional vaccines or boosters.
Please note that the National Immunisation Program does not cover adults and seniors for missed or catch-up vaccines. You can buy additional vaccines privately when you need to.
Check the National Immunisation Program schedule and talk to your doctor or immunisation provider if you have not had all the recommended childhood vaccinations.
Know The Facts About The Pneumonia Vaccine
Just as with a flu shot, and now the COVID-19 vaccines, some people believe that getting a pneumococcal vaccine will cause them to come down with the disease or experience long-term side effects.
This is absolutely not true, Dr. Suri says.
Not only will the pneumococcal vaccine help reduce the risk of contracting certain types of bacterial pneumonia, it also guards against serious consequences resulting from the flu and severe infections, such as .
For young children, older adults, smokers and those with other risk factors, the vaccine is a healthy choice to make.
I cant see any reason to avoid this vaccine and every reason to get it, she says.
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What Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Do
Pneumonia is a serious condition that attacks the lungs, causing coughing, fever, and difficulty breathing. It often requires hospitalisation, and can be life-threatening especially for the elderly or for people with weakened immune systems.
Pneumonia can be caused by viruses and fungi, but its usually caused by a bacterial infection. This is why both types of the pneumonia vaccine work by generating antibodies to kill pneumococcal bacteria. Once youve had the vaccine, your body will be able to use these antibodies to quickly fight off the bacteria strains that cause pneumonia.
Can The Shots Cause Pneumonia Or Make You Sick
No. The pneumonia vaccines dont contain live bacteria, so they cant cause an infection. They wont cause pneumonia or other pneumococcal diseases. If you dont feel well after your vaccine, you should discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider to find out whether they are related to the vaccine or caused by another illness.
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What Is A Pneumococcal Vaccine
Engineered to prevent the pneumococcal disease, the pneumococcal vaccine is an injection that helps restrain illnesses caused by pneumococcal bacteriawhich includes pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, bacteremia, and even meningitis. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines:
- PCV13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria and pneumoniaeasy to remember because 13 is in the name!
- PPSV23 protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteriaeasy to remember because 23 is in the name!
People With Health Problems And The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The PPV vaccine is available on the NHS for children and adults aged from 2 to 64 years old who are at a higher risk of developing a pneumococcal infection than the general population.
This is generally the same people who are eligible for annual flu vaccination.
You’re considered to be at a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection if you have:
- a suppressed immune system caused by a health condition, such as HIV
- a suppressed immune system caused by medicines, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets
- a cochlear implant Action on Hearing Loss has more information about cochlear implants
- had a leak of cerebrospinal fluid this could be the result of an accident or surgery
Adults and children who are severely immunocompromised usually have a single dose of PCV followed by PPV.
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Where Can You Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
Once you know one of the pneumonia vaccines is right for you or your family, you may wonder where to get it. These vaccines are commonly available at medical offices and hospitals, so you might be able to get one where you see your healthcare provider. If they do not have it, many pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens locations, have the vaccine. Your local health department is also a good resource and often gives vaccinations.
Common And Local Adverse Events
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
Studies of Pneu-C-13 vaccine indicated that irritability decreased appetite increased or decreased sleep and pain, swelling and redness at the injection site after the toddler dose and in older children, are common side effects. Low grade fever occurred in 20% to 30% or more of vaccine recipients. In adults over 50 years of age, the most commonly reported side effects included pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and new onset of myalgia, with fever above 38Â°C occurring in approximately 3% of vaccine recipients.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
Reactions to Pneu-P-23 vaccine are usually mild. Soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site occur in 30% to 60% of vaccine recipients and more commonly follow SC administration than IM administration. Occasionally, low grade fever may occur. Re-immunization of healthy adults less than 2 years after the initial dose is associated with increased injection site and systemic reactions. Studies have suggested that re-vaccination after an interval of at least 4 years is not associated with an increased incidence of adverse side effects. However, severe injection site reactions, including reports of injection site cellulitis and peripheral edema in the injected extremity, have been documented rarely with Pneu-P-23 vaccine in post-marketing surveillance, even with the first dose. Multiple re-vaccinations are not recommended refer to Booster doses and re-immunization.
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About Author: Ken Harris
Ken Harris is the proudest father and a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.He has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.
How Should I Approach Getting Vaccinated
Prioritizing is the name of the game plan during 2021 and 2022. Everyone really should’ve had the COVID vaccine by nowif they haven’t or they’re still sort of sitting on the fence, then preferably, the sooner the better, Dr. Wolfe says. Then, flu and/or pneumonia as you come into the winter.” Shingles is not seasonally dependent, “but people should talk to their doctor about it.
Ideally, you can piggybank some of these vaccines together. For instance, COVID with flu, or flu with pneumonia, or shingles with flu. For many years, we’ve done flu and pneumonia together, Dr. Wolfe says. I think trying to give people three vaccines at once is probably asking for a bit much, but certainly two at once can be done with no concerns.
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Concurrent Administration Of Vaccines
Pneumococcal vaccines may be administered concomitantly with other vaccines, with the exception of a different formulation of pneumococcal vaccine . There should be at least an 8 week interval between a dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and a subsequent dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine, and at least a 1 year interval between a dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine and a subsequent dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine refer to Immunocompromised persons for information regarding administration of pneumococcal vaccines to HSCT recipients. Different injection sites and separate needles and syringes must be used for concurrent parenteral injections. Refer to Timing of Vaccine Administration in Part 1 for additional information about concurrent administration of vaccines.
When To Get The Vaccine
Thereâs no such thing as pneumonia season, like flu season. If you and your doctor decide that you need to have a pneumonia vaccine, you can get it done at any time of the year. If itâs flu season, you can even get a pneumonia vaccine at the same time that you get a flu vaccine, as long as you receive each shot in a different arm.
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Do The Pneumonia Vaccines Work
The pneumococcal vaccines are very effective at preventing pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases in both adults and children. In one large study of over 84,000 adults aged 65 and older, those who received PCV13 were less likely to get pneumococcal pneumonia than were those who received a placebo shot. The vaccine protected about 45% of vaccinated people from getting pneumonia and about 75% from getting an invasive pneumococcal disease. Invasive pneumococcal disease is the most serious type and can be life-threatening.
PPSV23 is also effective and protects at least 50% of vaccinated, healthy adults from invasive pneumococcal infections.
In children, PCV13 has decreased the amount of invasive pneumococcal disease. According to the CDC, PCV13 prevented about 30,000 cases of invasive disease in the first 3 years it was available.
Getting the vaccine not only protects you from getting pneumonia and other types of pneumococcal disease, but also protects vulnerable people around you who cant get vaccinated.