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.
Do I Need To Pay For Pneumococcal Immunisation
Vaccines covered by the National Immunisation Program are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.
Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.
If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.
What Is A Pneumococcal Vaccine
A pneumococcal vaccine is an injection that can prevent pneumococcal disease. A pneumococcal disease is any illness that is caused by pneumococcal bacteria, including pneumonia. In fact, the most common cause of pneumonia is pneumococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria can also cause ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis.
Adults age 65 or older are amongst the highest risk groups for getting pneumococcal disease.
To prevent pneumococcal disease, there are two types of pneumococcal vaccines: the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine .
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Side Effects Of Pneumococcal Vaccine
Like other vaccines, there are certain side effects associated with PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines. You do not usually experience life-threatening complications though. Some people may have problems such as redness, swelling, and soreness at the site of the shot. This should resolve in a few days.
About 1% of people experience other side effects after getting the shot, and the list includes muscle aches, fever, and severe swelling. A severe allergic reaction may occur if you are allergic to anything in the vaccines. The most common signs of a severe allergic reaction are dizziness, breathing difficulty, behavior changes, hives, high fever, hoarse voice, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, and weakness. Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience these symptoms.
Who Should Get Prevnar 13 And Pneumovax 23
Prevnar 13 was developed for infants and children. The CDC recommends that all infants and children younger than 2 years of age get Prevnar 13. Prevnar 13 involves a series of four doses of the vaccine given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and sometime between 12 and 15 months of age.
Pneumovax 23 is the vaccine used in adults. It does not work in infants and children under 2 years old.
Most adults do not need a pneumococcal vaccine until they reach the age of 65. Once a person turns 65 years old, the CDC recommends Pneumovax 23.
The same is true for any adult who smokes or has one or more of these chronic illnesses:
Chronic heart disease
Chronic lung disease, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Chronic liver disease
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How Effective Is Each Vaccine
Vaccines help protect against disease, but no vaccine is 100% effective.
Studies show that at least one dose of Prevnar 13 protects 80% of babies from serious pneumococcal infections, 75% of adults age 65 and older from invasive pneumococcal disease , and 45% of adults age 65 and older from pneumococcal pneumonia.
Studies show that one dose of Pneumovax 23 protects 50% to 85% of healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease.
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.
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What You Should Know About Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs that typically stems from several kinds of germs, most often bacteria and viruses.
Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. They include:
- Chest pain.
- Loss of appetite.
Early detection is often challenging because many people with these symptoms assume they have a cold or the flu.
Its important to also note that the vaccine helps protect against some but not all bacterial pneumonia.
There are dozens of different types of bacterial pneumonia, says Dr. Suri. The vaccine will certainly reduce your risk of the most common bacterial pneumonia.
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Who Should Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for those who fall into the following groups:
- All babies and children younger than 2 years old.
- All adults 65 years or older.
- Adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.
- Children older than 2 and adults younger than 65 who have certain chronic diseases .
- Those who are at increased risk for certain diseases and those who have impaired immune systems.
The recommendations are sometimes confusing, so its a good idea to talk to your doctor about your questions and concerns, Dr. Suri says.
And dont wait to have that conversation. This is an infection you see year-round, she adds.
How Arthritis Medications May Impact The Effectiveness Of The Pneumonia Vaccine
Pneumococcal vaccines are inactivated and generally considered safe for people with inflammatory arthritis who are on immunosuppressive medications, says Dr. Lieber.
A study published in the journal Rheumatology found that conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs medications such as methotrexate that are taken to reduce disease activity can blunt the effects of both the PCV13 and PCV23 vaccines.
In other words, people who are taking these medications who get both vaccines may not have as much protection as those who are not taking immunosuppressing drugs.
People with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to be able to develop protective antibodies after pneumococcal vaccination, says Dr. Lieber. However, since some immunosuppressive medications may be associated with dampened immune response to vaccines, your doctor may consider the timing of pneumococcal vaccination relative to your immunosuppressive regimen to maximize immune response.
If possible, the ideal time to get vaccinated is before starting an immunosuppressant medication. If youre already on one and have not been received the pneumococcal vaccines, youll need to weigh the decision of whether to temporarily hold your medication with your rheumatologist.
As with the flu shot, you wont get protection from the pneumonia vaccine for at least a few weeks after you receive it. And its still possible to get pneumonia after receiving the vaccine.
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Who Should Not Get Pneumovax 23 Or Prevnar 13
Children younger than 2 years of age should not get Pneumovax 23. In addition, while there is no evidence that Pneumovax 23 is harmful to pregnant women or their babies, as a precaution, women who need Pneumovax 23 should get it before becoming pregnant, if possible.
Before you get either Prevnar 13 or Pneumovax 23, tell your health provider if you have had any life-threatening allergic reaction to or have a severe allergy to pneumococcal vaccines or any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid . Also, tell your health provider if you are not feeling well. If you have a minor illness like a cold, you can probably still get vaccinated, but if you have a more serious illness, you should probably wait until you recover.
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose pneumonia mainly by talking to the person who is unwell and examining them.
Tests for pneumonia include blood samples, a swab from inside the nose or throat, urine or sputum to try to identify the cause of the pneumonia. A chest x-ray is usually also taken. If you are in hospital, doctors will also monitor to see if there is enough oxygen in your blood.
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Can Pneumonia Be Prevented
Vaccinations can help prevent some types of pneumonia. Its a good idea to speak to your doctor about whether vaccination is recommended for you or for your children.
One vaccination that reduces the risk of pneumonia is the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccines are free in Australia under the National Immunisation Program for some people .
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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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.
What Are The Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two FDA-approved vaccines that protect against pneumonia:
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV13
23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV23
These immunizations are called pneumonia vaccines because they prevent pneumonia, which is an infection in the lungs. They are also known as pneumococcal vaccines because they protect against a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Although there are many viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause pneumonia, pneumococcus is the most common cause. Pneumococcus can also cause infections in other parts of the body.
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What Happens When You Get Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease can lead to many different illnesses. What illness you get depends on where the bacteria goes in your body. If the bacteria spreads to your lungs, it can cause pneumonia. The bacteria can also get into the bloodstream and cause sepsis. If the bacteria gets to the central nervous system, it can cause meningitis. All forms of pneumococcal disease are very dangerous.2-4
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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Pneumococcal Vaccines Can Provide Important Protection For People Who Are Immunocompromised Because Of Inflammatory Conditions
As you make plans to get the flu shot this season, you should also talk to your doctor about whether you need another vaccine that protects against common respiratory infection: the pneumococcal vaccination.
While you may think of this as a vaccine for those ages 65 and older, thats too late to wait if you have a form of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, psoriatic arthritis , or axial spondyloarthritis .
Living with an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis makes you vulnerable to serious infection and increases your risk of pneumonia, says Justin Owensby, PharmD, PhD, a research pharmacist in the division of clinical immunology and rheumology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham . It is especially important to get vaccinated against infectious diseases. Vaccines strengthen your immune response and protect your health and the health of those around you.
Unfortunately, many people with inflammatory arthritis dont get the pneumonia vaccine as part of their routine care. According to a recent study of rheumatoid arthritis patients, for example, a mere 10 percent of people treated in rural areas met the recommendation from theAmerican College of Rheumatology and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for getting the pneumococcal vaccine.
Heres more information about how and when to get your pneumonia vaccine safely this year.
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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Who Should Get Immunised Against Pneumococcal Disease
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against pneumococcal disease can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
Pneumococcal immunisation is recommended for:
- infants and children aged under 5 years
- non-Indigenous adults aged 70 years and over without medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged under 5 years living in Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 50 years and over without medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- infants under 12 months diagnosed with certain medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- people over 12 months with certain medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine provided free under the National Immunisation Program for different age groups and circumstances:
Refer to the NIP schedule for vaccine dosage information. Your doctor or vaccination provider will advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition.
Refer to the pneumococcal recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook for more information.
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.
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How Is Pneumonia Treated
Treatment will depend on whether the pneumonia is caused by bacteria or a virus.
If bacteria have caused the infection, the main treatment is antibiotics. In milder cases, antibiotics can be taken by mouth. In more severe cases, theyll need to injected, at least at first. Antibiotics are usually given at the first sign of pneumonia, before its clear whether the pneumonia is caused by a virus or bacteria.
Viral pneumonia cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Most people who have pneumonia will be able to stay home. If your symptoms havent improved within the first 5 days of taking antibiotics or your symptoms get worse, contact the doctor. Sometimes you may need a change in the dose or type of antibiotic, or you may need more than one medicine.
Some people will need to be treated in hospital. This is more common for people who are very old, very young or who have other illnesses. A person in hospital for pneumonia may need oxygen therapy, or other more intense forms of treatment.
Cough medicine is not recommended for people with pneumonia. Coughing can help move mucous plugs from the tubes and help clear the infection.
People with pneumonia should quit smoking and keep well away from things that will irritate their lungs, such as smoke. Drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest to help you recover.