What Are The Side Effects
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get pneumococcal disease.
Many people have no side effects from the vaccines. For those that do, side effects are usually mild and last 1 to 2 days . Serious side effects are very rare.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is a very rare possibility, between one in 100,000 and one in a million, of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes injection of epinephrine and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your immunizing health care provider.
Everything You Need To Know About The Pneumonia Vaccine
During the winter months, many people think that they have a nasty cold or flu, but it turns out to be pneumonia an illness that can be life threatening in certain people. A vaccine can help lower your chance of contracting pneumonia. While the pneumonia vaccine does not prevent all cases of pneumonia, it reduces the severity of the disease.
That is especially important for older adults and if you have certain medical conditions that put you at greater risk for complications.
Now is the time to talk to your doctor about your risks and if you need a vaccine to protect you against pneumonia.
Niharika Juwarkar, MD, Internal Medicine with Firelands Physician Group, answers your most frequently asked questions about pneumonia and the risks.
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a respiratory lung infection that is often mistaken for the flu. Your lungs become filled with fluid or pus that results in inflammation. Symptoms are very similar to the flu, but pneumonia can last for weeks and result in very serious complications.
While pneumonia can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, most cases are due to a specific bacteria called streptococcus pneumoniae, more commonly known as pneumococcal pneumonia. This form can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor can test to see what form of pneumonia you have. Treatment depends on the type of pneumonia you have and the severity of your symptoms. But, the best defense is vaccination.
Who is most at risk for pneumonia?
Other Types Of Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumonia vaccines protect against pneumococcal infections in other parts of the body. These infections include:
What is it: An infection in the middle part of the ear.
Symptoms: Fever, ear pain, and decreased hearing
What is it: A sinus infection, which is often first caused by a virus. Later, a bacterial infection can set in, causing worsening or ongoing symptoms.
Symptoms: Pain and pressure around the eyes and nose, fever, drainage, and congestion
Who gets it: Sinus infections are more common in adults than in children. Pneumococcus is a common cause and may contribute to up to 35% of sinus infections.
What is it: An infection of the leptomeninges, or the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be life-threatening, so getting immediate treatment is important.
Symptoms: Fever, confusion, headache, and neck stiffness
Who gets it: Pneumococcal meningitis usually occurs in very young children and older adults. In the U.S., pneumococcus is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children under age 5.
These infections can also be caused by other bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Pneumococcus, the pneumococcal vaccines, is only one cause.
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How Do We Know The Vaccine Is Safe
All medicines are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency . The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
Side Effects Of The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Like most vaccines, the childhood and adult versions of the pneumococcal vaccine can sometimes cause mild side effects.
- redness where the injection was given
- hardness or swelling where the injection was given
There are no serious side effects listed for either the childhood or adult versions of the vaccine, apart from an extremely rare risk of a severe allergic reaction .
How Often Do You Need To Get The Pneumonia Vaccines
Sometimes, vaccines require a booster shot. This means that an additional shot is given after the initial one to make sure that you dont lose immunity over time.
PCV13 never requires a booster shot in children or adults after all recommended doses are received.
Sometimes, PPSV23 requires a booster shot, depending on when and why it was given:
Children who get PPSV23 due to certain health conditions, like cancer and conditions that weaken the immune system, need a booster 5 years after the first dose.
Adults who get PPSV23 before age 65 should get one booster at least 5 years after the first dose, once theyve turned 65. No booster is needed if the first dose is given after age 65.
Adults with a weakened immune system and other specific conditions should have another dose 5 years after their first dose, and then one more dose at least 5 years after their most recent dose, once theyve turned 65.
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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Are The Pneumonia Vaccines Safe
Yes, pneumonia vaccines are safe. Like all vaccines, they go through rigorous scientific testing and review. Although both pneumococcal vaccines can cause mild side effects, severe reactions to the vaccines are rare. In one study of adults over age 70 who received the PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines, there was only one adverse event that was related to the vaccine.
Allergic reactions to vaccines are rare, but they can occur and may be serious. If you have had an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the pneumococcal vaccines or to a prior dose of a pneumococcal vaccine, you should not get vaccinated without talking to your healthcare provider first.
If you have questions about whether the pneumonia vaccines are safe for you, discuss this with your healthcare provider. You can also find information about pneumococcal vaccine safety here.
Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
People should not get the vaccine if they have had a life threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose.
Additionally, a person should not undergo vaccination if they have had an allergic reaction to medication containing diphtheria toxoid or an earlier form of the pneumonia vaccination .
Lastly, people who are sick or have allergic reactions to any of the ingredients of the vaccine should talk to a doctor before getting the shot.
A pneumonia shot will not reduce pneumonia. However, it helps prevent invasive pneumococcal diseases, such as meningitis, endocarditis, empyema, and bacteremia, which is when bacteria enter the bloodstream.
Noninvasive pneumococcal disease includes sinusitis.
There are two types of pneumonia shots available. Which type a person gets depends on their age, whether or not they smoke, and the presence of any underlying medical conditions.
The two types are:
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine : Healthcare providers recommend this vaccine for young children, people with certain underlying conditions, and some people over the age of 65 years.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine : Healthcare providers recommend this vaccine for anyone over 65 years of age, people with certain underlying conditions, and people who smoke.
According to the
- roughly 8 in 10 babies from invasive pneumococcal disease
- 45 in 100 adults 65 years or older against pneumococcal pneumonia
- 75 in 100 adults 65 years or older against invasive pneumococcal disease
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How Do You Get Immunised Against Pneumococcal Disease
You can only get pneumococcal vaccines on their own, not as a combination vaccine. Different vaccines protect against different types of pneumococcal disease. They are all given as a needle.
There are 2 types of pneumococcal vaccine:
- Pneumovax 23 – PDF 21 KB – covers 23 strains of pneumococcal disease.
The type of vaccine used and the dosage schedule will depend on age and any conditions that put people at higher risk of getting pneumococcal disease. Your doctor can tell you which vaccine they will use for your pneumococcal immunisation.
Who Needs One Or Two Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two pneumococcal vaccines, each working in a different way to maximize protection. PPSV23 protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Those 23 strains are about 90- to 95-plus percent of the strains that cause pneumonia in humans, Poland explains. PCV13, on the other hand, is a conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. PCV13 induces immunologic memory, he says. Your body will remember that it has encountered an antigen 20 years from now and develop antibodies to fight it off.
In order to get the best protection against all strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia, the CDC has long recommended that everyone 65 or older receive both vaccines: PCV13 , followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at a later visit. But the agency is now saying that PCV13 may not be necessary for healthy people 65 and older, suggesting that the decision be left up to patients and their physicians as to whether that extra skin prick is appropriate.
“Anyone who reaches the age of 65 and is in any way immunocompromised or has any of the listed indications for pneumococcal vaccine because they’re in a high-risk group for example, if they have diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or are a smoker should continue to get both vaccines, says Schaffner.
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Patients In Health Care Institutions
Residents of long-term care facilities should receive Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Refer to Recommendations for Use for information about pneumococcal vaccination of individuals at increased risk of IPD. Refer to Immunization of Patients in Health Care Institutions in Part 3 for additional information about vaccination of patients in health care institutions.
How Long Does A Pneumonia Shot Last
- Younger than 2 years old: four shots
- 65 years old or older: two shots, which will last you the rest of your life
- Between 2 and 64 years old: between one and three shots if you have certain immune system disorders or if youre a smoker
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How To Pay For Shingrix
Commercial insurance covers about 96% of insured people for the Shingrix vaccine. Most people with private insurance will pay under $5 for each dose.
Programs like Medicaid cover Shingrix in certain states. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover the shingles vaccine. But individuals covered under Medicare prescription drug plans, or Part D, will have their vaccines covered.
For people who do not have access to insurance, there are a number of vaccine assistance programs and affordable health coverage options available. Many of these programs provide vaccines at little or no cost.
Types Of Pneumonia Vaccine
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine also known as Prevenar 13 offers protection against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. This type is given to young children as part of their routine NHS vaccinations. Its also available for adults under 65 through our vaccination service.
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine also known as Pneumovax 23 offers protection against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. This type is given to adults over 65 and anyone with a very high risk of pneumonia.
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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.
What If It Is Not Clear What A Person’s Vaccination History Is
When indicated, vaccines should be administered to patients with unknown vaccination status. All residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities should have their vaccination status assessed and documented.
How long must a person wait to receive other vaccinations?
Inactivated influenza vaccine and tetanusvaccines may be given at the same time as or at any time before or after a dose of pneumococcus vaccine. There are no requirements to wait between the doses of these or any other inactivated vaccines.
Vaccination of children recommended
In July 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC jointly recommended childhood pneumococcal immunization, since pneumococcal infections are the most common invasive bacterial infections in children in the United States.
“The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV13 or Prevnar 13, is currently recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age, all adults 65 years or older, and persons 6 through 64 years of age with certain medical conditions,” according to the 2014 AAP/CDC guidelines. “Pneumovax is a 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine that is currently recommended for use in all adults 65 years of age or older and for persons who are 2 years and older and at high risk for pneumococcal disease . PPSV23 is also recommended for use in adults 19 through 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or who have asthma.”
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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.
The Flu Pneumonia And Inflammation Create A Deadly Threat
Pneumococcal pneumonia can follow other viral infections, particularly influenza, says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. The biology behind it:The flu virus attaches to, and infects, the cells lining the mucous membranes in the back of the throat, nose and bronchial tubes. Normally, the cells eject infectious agents out of the body via the nose or mouth, or they’re simply swallowed. But when impaired by the flu, the cells lining these membranes allow the bacteria to slip down into the bronchial tubes and trigger a secondary infection, in the lungs. The infection inflames the air sacs in the lungs, causing them to fill with pus and fluid. That not only makes it hard to breathe but can allow bacteria to escape into the bloodstream, causing an infection called sepsis, an aggressive inflammatory response that can, ultimately, lead to organ failure.
Pneumococcal pneumonia, of course, is also likely be a complication of respiratory syncytial virus , a common and highly contagious winter lung infection, whichuncharacteristicallyspread this summer, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the pneumococcal vaccine wont shield you from pneumonia that results from either of them. As Schaffner puts it, Pneumonia from Covid is a different sort of pneumonia.
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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.