Who Should Not Get These Vaccines
Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Read the guidelines below specific to pneumococcal vaccines and ask your or your childs doctor for more information.
Children younger than 2 years old should not get PPSV23. In addition, tell the person who is giving you or your child a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if:
You or your child have had a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy.
- Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any of the following should not get PCV13:
- A shot of this vaccine
- An earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine called PCV7
- Any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid
You or your child are not feeling well.
- People who have a mild illness, such as a cold, can probably get vaccinated. People who have a more serious illness should probably wait until they recover. Your or your childs doctor can advise you.
The Pneumonia Vaccine Explained
While pneumonia is usually mild, it can have deadly consequences for portions of the population, especially people over the age of 65. In fact, Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria that causes pneumococcal disease, is the No. 1 cause of pneumonia worldwide.
The vaccine indirectly protects adults by stopping children from spreading the bacteria
“But this bacteria doesn’t just cause pneumonia. It’s a nasty human pathogen that can invade the brain and bloodstream, leading to ear infections, sinus infections, even meningitis,” says Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet, associate medical director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai.
“It can make people very sick, and it’s a key cause of death among the elderly.”
In 2017, an estimated 3,600 people died from invasive pneumococcal disease in the U.S. alone.
Are You 65 Or Older Get Two Vaccinations Against Pneumonia
- By Gregory Curfman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Former Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Health Publishing
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
If you or a loved one is age 65 or older, getting vaccinated against pneumonia is a good idea so good that the Centers for Disease Control now recommends that everyone in this age group get vaccinated against pneumonia twice.
This new recommendation is based on findings from a large clinical trial called CAPiTA, which were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, sometimes just called pneumococcus, is a common bacterium that can cause serious lung infections like pneumonia. It can also cause invasive infections of the bloodstream, the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord , and other organs and tissues. Older individuals are especially prone to being infected by Pneumococcus, and these infections are often deadly.
The dark spots are pneumonia-causing Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria isolated from the blood of an infected person.
One caveat is that while PCV13 is effective in preventing pneumonia caused by S. pneumoniae, it does not prevent pneumonia caused by viruses or other bacteria.
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Who Should Get The Vaccine
People over age 65. As you age, your immune system doesnât work as well as it once did. Youâre more likely to have trouble fighting off a pneumonia infection. All adults over age 65 should get the vaccine.
Those with weakened immune systems. Many diseases can cause your immune system to weaken, so itâs less able to fight off bugs like pneumonia.
People who smoke. If youâve smoked for a long time, you could have damage to the small hairs that line the insides of your lungs and help filter out germs. When theyâre damaged, they arenât as good at stopping those bad germs.
People getting over surgery or a severe illness. If you were in the hospital ICU and needed help breathing with a ventilator, youâre at risk of getting pneumonia. The same is true if youâve just had major surgery or if youâre healing from a serious injury. When your immune system is weak because of illness or injury or because itâs helping you get better from surgery, you canât fight off germs as well as you normally can.
The Best Place To Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
If after months of limiting your outings to minimize exposure to COVID-19, the idea of heading to a doctor or pharmacy to get a pneumonia vaccine seems scary, know this: The CDC has outlined safe vaccination practices for local pharmacies, grocery stores, and doctors offices, including:
- Screening for COVID-10 symptoms
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Pregnancy And Pneumococcal Immunisation
Immunisation against pneumococcal disease is not usually recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women who are at increased risk of pneumococcal infection should be vaccinated before pregnancy or as soon as possible after giving birth. Speak with your doctor about whether you are at risk of infection and should be immunised.
Schedule And Timing For The Pneumonia Vaccine
If youre between the ages of 19 and 64 and live with inflammatory arthritis, rheumatology experts recommend getting your pneumonia vaccine if you havent had one yet.
There are two kinds of pneumonia vaccines. You will need one of each, spaced at least eight weeks apart from each other.
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine
PVC13, which was developed first, helps protect against 13 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria. The PPSV23 helps protect against an additional 10 different strains.
Unlike the flu vaccine, theres no season or special time of year to get the pneumonia vaccine. You can get it at any time. Also, unlike the flu, it is not an annual vaccine. You only need to get it one time, with a follow-up dose a few years later.
For inflammatory arthritis patients who have not had a pneumococcal vaccine, the CDC recommends the following schedule.
- For adults aged 19 years or older, give one dose of PCV13, followed by one dose of PPSV23 at least eight weeks after PCV13.
- Then give a second dose of PPSV23 at least five years after the first dose of PPSV23.
- If the most recent dose of PPSV23 was administered before age 65 years, at age 65 years or older, administer another dose of PPSV23 at least 5 years after the last dose of PPSV23).
When To See A Doctor
A person who is over 65 years of age should talk to their doctor about which pneumonia vaccine may be best for them. The doctor can help determine whether they should get the vaccination, which vaccination to get, and when to get it.
Parents and caregivers of young children should talk to a pediatrician about the schedule for the pneumonia vaccination. The pediatrician can also address any questions or concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination.
A person does not need to see a doctor for mild reactions to the vaccine, such as tenderness at the injection site, fever, or fatigue.
However, if a person experiences any life threatening side effects, they should seek emergency help immediately.
Signs and symptoms of allergic reactions in children may include:
- respiratory distress, such as wheezing
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- When should I make an appointment to get each type of pneumococcal vaccine?
- Should I still get the vaccines if Ive recently had pneumonia?
- Should I wait to turn 65 before I get each dose of pneumococcal vaccines?
- If I have a negative reaction to one type of pneumococcal vaccine, am I likely to have that same reaction to the other?
Funding was provided for these pneumococcal resources through an unrestricted grant from Pfizer Independent Grant for Learning and Change .
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Should You Get A Flu Shot
In general, every person with diabetes needs a flu shot each year. Talk with your doctor about having a flu shot. Flu shots do not give 100% protection, but they do make it less likely for you to catch the flu for about six months.
For extra safety, it’s a good idea for the people you live with or spend a lot of time with to get a flu shot, too. You are less likely to get the flu if the people around you don’t have it.
The best time to get your flu shot is beginning in September. The shot takes about two weeks to take effect.
If youre sick , ask if you should wait until you are healthy again before having your flu shot. And don’t get a flu shot if you are allergic to eggs.
You are advised to continue to take the general precautions of preventing seasonal flu and other communicable illnesses and diseases:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash. If you dont have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Signs Of Pneumonia Vaccine Side Effects
As with any vaccination, there are potential side effects of the pneumonia vaccination. Common side effects include:
Injection site soreness
Less than 1% of people who receive a pneumonia vaccine develop a fever. If your temperature is above 100.4 F , you have a fever.
Irritability is a feeling of agitation. When you’re feeling irritable, you’re more likely to become frustrated or upset. In children, this may present as fussiness.
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Who Should Get Pneumococcal Vaccines
CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 years or older. In certain situations, older children and other adults should also get pneumococcal vaccines. Below is more information about who should and should not get each type of pneumococcal vaccine.
Talk to your or your childs doctor about what is best for your specific situation.
Path To Improved Health
Pneumococcal vaccines can protect you against getting pneumonia, which is contagious and spreads from close, person-to-person contact. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and can lead to many symptoms, including:
- chest pains
- bringing up mucus when you cough
For seniors, pneumonia can be very serious and life-threatening. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or COPD. Pneumonia can also develop after youve had a case of the flu or a respiratory virus such as COVID-19. It is extremely important to stay current on flu shots each year in addition to your pneumococcal vaccines.
While PPSV23 and PCV13 do not protect against all types of pneumonia, they can make it less likely that you will experience severe and possibly life-threatening complications from the illness.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that seniors who have not had either pneumococcal vaccine should get a dose of PCV13 first, and then a dose of PPSV23 6-12 months later. The vaccines cannot be given at the same time. If you have recently had a dose of PPSV23, your doctor will wait at least one year to give you PCV13.
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Why You Need The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When germs enter the lungs, they can overwhelm the immune system, causing inflammation, cough, fever, chills, and breathing problems.
Bacterial pneumonia, which may occur after you first have a viral infection such as a cold or the flu, is the most common type of pneumonia in adults.
Several types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, but Streptococcus pneumoniae is the type that most frequently causes pneumonia and other types of infection in adults.
Pneumococcal vaccines are designed to reduce the risk of infection from Streptococcus pneumoniae, explains Sarah B. Lieber, MD, MS, rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
If you have a form of inflammatory arthritis, the same chronic, systemic inflammation that targets your joints can also decrease your bodys natural immune defenses. This increase your risk of serious infection like pneumonia. Plus, taking certain medications to manage your condition can also weaken or suppress the immune response, leaving you that much more susceptible to pneumonia.
How Long Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Last
For most adults, one dose of the pneumonia vaccine should last a lifetime. In other words, you wont usually need to get another dose. This makes it different to the flu vaccine, which is given every year.
For some people, boosters of the pneumonia vaccine will be needed. This will be the case for people who have underlying health conditions that make them high-risk for pneumonia and related conditions. Your doctor will let you know if you need another vaccine.
If youre somebody who needs top-ups of the pneumonia vaccine, youll be able to receive them for free on the NHS.
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How Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Work
There are currently two vaccines administered in the United States:
What Are The Most Common Side Effects Of Pneumovax 23 And Prevnar 13
Side effects with pneumococcal vaccines are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Common side effects of Prevnar 13 include:
Injection site pain
Common side effects of Pneumovax 23 include:
Injection site pain
Be sure to talk with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time.
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What Is The Pneumonia Vaccine
The pneumonia vaccine is an injection that prevents you from contracting pneumococcal disease. There are two pneumococcal vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States:
The Center for Disease Control recommends the PCV13 vaccine for:
- All children younger than 2 years old
- People 2 years or older with certain medical conditions
The CDC recommends PPSV23 for:
- All adults 65 years or older
- People 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions
- Smokers 19 through 64 years old
Prevnar 13 Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Prevnar 13: hives difficult breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Keep track of all side effects you have. If you need a booster dose, you will need to tell the vaccination provider if the previous shot caused any side effects.
Becoming infected with pneumococcal disease is much more dangerous to your health than receiving Prevnar 13. However, like any medicine, Prevnar 13 can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is low.
sleeping more or less than usual
swelling, tenderness, or redness where a shot was given
trouble moving the arm where a shot was given
crying or fussiness
vomiting, loss of appetite or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
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