Who Should Get Vaccinated Against It
Three vaccines are now available to help prevent pneumococcal disease. Before the FDA approval of Prevnar 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the use of two other pneumococcal vaccines and . You can read more about them here.
The CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children under 2 years old and all adults at least 65 years old. Although pneumococcal disease can affect people of all ages, younger children and older adults are most at risk.
Depending on vaccination history and the presence of certain medical conditions, other people may also need to receive pneumococcal vaccinations. If you arent sure of your pneumococcal vaccination history, speak to your healthcare provider.
How Does It Compare To Other Pneumococcal Vaccines
Like Prevnar 20, Prevnar 13 is a conjugate vaccine that works in a similar way to protect you against pneumococcal disease. Pneumovax 23, on the other hand, is a polyvalent vaccine that works by producing antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria.
No vaccine is 100% effective at preventing disease, but all three pneumococcal vaccines Prevnar 13, Prevnar 20, and Pneumovax 23 are considered safe and effective for helping protect against pneumococcal disease. And this latest FDA approval demonstrates ongoing pneumococcal vaccine development, with more candidates currently in the pipeline.
Lets review some key differences between the vaccines.
Pneumococcal Diseases & Pneumonia Shots
There is a category of diseases called pneumococcal disease, of which pneumonia is one of the most dangerousthe other most dangerous being meningitis. People with diabetes are about three times more likely to die with flu and pneumococcal diseases, yet most dont get a simple, safe pneumonia shot.
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
Cough that can produce mucus that is gray, yellow, or streaked with blood Chest pain
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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.
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.
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Which Pneumonia Vaccine Is Best
There is no best pneumonia vaccine. The two available pneumonia vaccines are different, and which one is best for you depends on how old you are and whether or not you have certain medical conditions.
The main difference between Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 is the number of pneumococcus strains the vaccine protects against.
PPSV23 contains polysaccharides from 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria and is mainly given to older adults.
How The Pneumococcal Vaccine Works
Both types of pneumococcal vaccine encourage your body to produce antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria.
Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to neutralise or destroy disease-carrying organisms and toxins.
They protect you from becoming ill if you’re infected with the bacteria.
More than 90 different strains of the pneumococcal bacterium have been identified, although most of these strains do not cause serious infections.
The childhood vaccine protects against 13 strains of the pneumococcal bacterium, while the adult vaccine protects against 23 strains.
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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.
What Is The Pneumonia Shot
The pneumonia shot is a vaccine that keeps you from getting pneumonia. There are two types of vaccines. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is primarily for children under age two, though it can be given to older ages, as well. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is for adults over age 65.
The pneumonia vaccine for older adults is one dose. Unlike the flu vaccine, you dont get it every year.
The vaccine teaches your body to make proteins that will destroy the pneumonia bacteria. These proteins are called antibodies and they will protect you and keep you from getting infected. The pneumonia vaccines dont have live bacteria or viruses in them, so you wont get pneumonia from the vaccine.
You should have the pneumonia vaccine if you:
- Are over age 65
- Have a long-term health problem
Vaccines dont prevent all pneumonia, but people who get the shot dont get as sick as those who dont have it. Benefits of the vaccine include:
- Milder infections
- Ringing in your ears
If you know you dont like needles or feel worried before getting a vaccine, you can try to look away while you have the shot. You can also try a relaxation technique like deep breathing or visualization to help you feel calm.
Older people are more likely to have long-term health problems that can make getting an infection dangerous. The pneumonia shot is recommended for most people.
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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
What Causes Pneumonia
There are many types of germs that can cause pneumonia. However, there are five main causes of pneumonia:
- Infectious agents, such as fungi
- Various chemicals
The most common causes are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. Pneumonia is classified according to the type of germ that caused the illness and where the infection was picked up.
Community-acquired pneumoniaCommunity-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia. Its usually contracted near hospitals or other health care facilities from things like:
- Bacteria. The most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in the US is Streptococcus pneumoniae.
- Bacteria-like organisms. Mycoplasma pneumoniae can also cause pneumonia and typically produces milder symptoms, also known as walking pneumonia.
- Fungi. Most common in those with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems. Fungi can be found in soil or bird droppings and vary depending on location.
- Some viruses that cause colds and the flu can cause pneumonia. This is the most common cause of pneumonia for children younger than 5.
Hospital-acquired pneumoniaThere is a possibility of catching pneumonia during a hospital stay for a different illness. This can be serious, since the bacteria that causes it can be more resistant to antibiotics. People on breathing machines often used in intensive care units are at higher risk of getting this type.
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How Much Will It Cost
At this time, Prevnar 20s list price hasnt been announced. However, this vaccine will likely be common for older adults, and its expected that Medicare will cover the bill. Pneumococcal vaccines are a cost-free benefit of Medicare Part B, and people with original Medicare or Medicare Advantage can receive covered pneumococcal vaccines with specific providers.
If you have Medicaid, check with your state Medicaid agency to see which vaccines are offered. Many Medicaid plans pay for some vaccines, but specific coverage varies.
All Health Insurance Marketplace plans and many private plans cover pneumococcal vaccines when provided by an in-network provider, but costs can vary depending on the specific insurance plan.
For people without insurance or adequate coverage, financial assistance and coupon programs may be available. Check back with GoodRx to find more ways to save and make your vaccinations more affordable.
Where Can I Find These Vaccines
Your doctors office is usually the best place to receive recommended vaccines for you or your child.
PCV13 is part of the routine childhood immunization schedule. Therefore, it is regularly available for children at:
- Pediatric and family practice offices
- Community health clinics
If your doctor does not have pneumococcal vaccines for adults, ask for a referral.
Pneumococcal vaccines may also be available for adults at:
- Health departments
- Other community locations, such as schools and religious centers
Federally funded health centers can also provide services if you do not have a regular source of health care. Locate one near youexternal icon. You can also contact your state health department to learn more about where to get pneumococcal vaccines in your community.
When receiving any vaccine, ask the provider to record the vaccine in the state or local registry, if available. This helps doctors at future encounters know what vaccines you or your child have already received.
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Who Should Have The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Anyone can get a pneumococcal infection. But some people are at higher risk of serious illness, so it’s recommended they’re given the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS.
- adults aged 65 or over
- children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition
Babies are offered 2 doses of pneumococcal vaccine, at 12 weeks and at 1 year of age.
People aged 65 and over only need a single pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine is not given annually like the flu jab.
If you have a long-term health condition you may only need a single, one-off pneumococcal vaccination, or a vaccination every 5 years, depending on your underlying health problem.
Who Shouldnt Get Prevnar 20
People who have had a severe allergic reaction in the past to any of the vaccines ingredients including diphtheria protein should not receive Prevnar 20. People who are 17 years or younger also shouldnt receive this vaccine.
At this time, the FDA didnt place any other restrictions on who can receive Prevnar 20. If youre unsure if you should receive this vaccine, your healthcare provider can give you more information.
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What Are The Side Effects Of The Pneumonia Vaccine
Most people don’t usually have serious side effects from either vaccine, but it’s possible to have some mild symptoms.
The most common side effects with PCV13 include:
- Redness where the shot was given.
- Swelling where the shot was given.
- Pain or tenderness where the shot was given.
The most common side effects with PPSV23 include:
- Redness where the shot was given.
- Pain where the shot was given.
- Muscle aches.
If you do happen to have side effects, CDC says they’ll usually go away within two days.
Pneumonia Vaccine May Affect Course Of Covid
Kaiser Permanente research finds older adults vaccinated with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine received some protection against COVID-19.
PASADENA, Calif. A Kaiser Permanente study showed that one type of pneumonia vaccine, the PCV13 vaccine, may affect the course of COVID-19 for some older adult patients. The study was published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Kaiser Permanente members who received the PCV13 vaccine appeared to be diagnosed with COVID-19 less often, and when they were, they seemed to have less severe outcomes, overall, said the senior author, Sara Y. Tartof, PhD, MPH, a scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. One of the most interesting aspects of our findings was that the patients who received PCV13 received some protection against COVID-19, while those who received PPSV23, another pneumococcal vaccine, did not.
When the virus that causes COVID-19 infects a new person, it encounters a diverse array of viral and bacterial species that naturally reside in the human upper airway. One of these species is a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus, which is commonly carried by children as well as adults. While typically harmless, this bacterium is well known for causing pneumonia and other diseases, often in interaction with viruses.
Among adults ages 65 years old and older, those who received the pneumonia vaccine PCV13 had:
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What Is Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. This bacteria commonly shortened to pneumococcus is a common cause of pneumonia and other invasive diseases. An invasive disease is when a germ is in a part of the body thats usually germ-free.
Meningitis a serious infection that surrounds the brain and spinal cord can be caused by a variety of germs, including pneumococcus. Pneumococcus can also cause blood infections , sinus infections, and ear infections.
Pneumococcal vaccines are available to help protect against pneumococcal disease. More on this below.
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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Problems That Could Happen After Getting Any Injected Vaccine
- People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your doctor if you or your child:
- Feel dizzy
- Have vision changes
- Have ringing in the ears
Types Of Pneumonia Vaccine
There are two vaccines which can provide protection against Streptococcus pneumoniae. They cannot prevent other types of bacterial pneumonia or any associated with a fungus or virus.
The two FDA-approved vaccines immunize a person against the specific serotypes that are most likely to cause illness and invasive disease. They are:
- PCV13, marketed under the name Prevnar 13,which prevents 13 of the most severe types of S. pneumoniaeï»¿ï»¿
- PPSV23, marketed under the name Pneumovax 23, which protects against an additional 23 S. pneumoniae serotypesï»¿ï»¿
Neither vaccine is made from a live or whole bacteria but rather parts of the bacterial shell. While these components cannot cause disease, the immune system recognizes them as threats and triggers a defensive response in the same way it would to a real bacteria.
The PVC13 vaccine is delivered intramuscularly either into the deltoid muscle of the upper arm or the vastus lateralis muscle of the external thigh. The PPSV23 shot can either be given intramuscularly or subcutaneously .
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Who Shouldn’t Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
If you don’t meet the recommendations for the pneumonia vaccine, you really don’t need to get it, pulmonary critical care expert Reynold Panettieri, MD, director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Science at Rutgers University, tells Health. “It’s a risk-benefit ratio,” he explains. “If you’re under 65 and are otherwise healthy, your likelihood of developing pneumococcal pneumonia is unlikely,” he says.
But there are some people who explicitly shouldn’t get the vaccines, per the CDC. Those include:
- People who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to PCV13, PPSV23, an early pneumococcal conjugate vaccine called PCV7, the DTaP vaccine, or any parts of these vaccines. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure.
- People who are currently ill.
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.
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