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.
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.
Babies And The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Babies are routinely vaccinated with a type of pneumococcal vaccine known as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine as part of their childhood vaccination programme.
Babies born on or after 1 January 2020 have 2 injections, which are usually given at:
- 12 weeks old
- 1 year old
Babies born before this date will continue to be offered 3 doses, at 8 and 16 weeks and a booster at 1 year.
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Age Recommendations And Dosing
Prevnar 13 is approved for use in children 6 weeks and older, and the CDC recommends it for children younger than 2 years old and people 2 years or older with certain medical conditions. Its given into the muscle, and its a 4-dose series for children between 2 and 15 months of age. For children who dont receive the vaccine at this time, a catch-up schedule is available.
Prevnar 20 is currently approved for use in adults at least 18 years old, but official CDC recommendations havent been established yet. Its given as a single-dose injection into the muscle.
Pneumovax 23 is approved for use in children 2 years and older at higher risk of infection and adults at least 50 years old. However, the CDC recommends it for all adults 65 years or older, people 2 through 64 years with certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years who smoke cigarettes. Its a single-dose injection given into the muscle or skin, but additional doses may be recommended for some people.
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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.
Side Effects Of The Vaccines Against Pneumococcal Disease
Vaccines against pneumococcal disease are effective and safe, although all medications can have unwanted side effects.
Side effects from the vaccine are uncommon and usually mild, but may include:
- localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- occasionally, an injection-site lump that may last many weeks
- low-grade temperature .
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Concerns About Immunisation Side Effects
If the side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe or if you are worried about yourself or your childs condition after a vaccination, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital. Immunisation side effects may be reported to SAEFVIC, the Victorian vaccine safety service.
It is also important to seek medical advice if you are unwell, as this may be due to other illness rather than because of the vaccination.
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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How Do I We Get The Vaccine
In Canada, all provinces and territories provide the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, starting at 2 months of age. While the exact schedule will depend on where you live, usually two shots are given between 2 and 11 months of age and a booster at 12-15 months. Children at high risk of disease are given three shots , as well as the booster.
Unvaccinated children between 15 months and 5 years old should also get the vaccine. Your doctor or public health unit can tell you the number of shots your child will need and when.
All unvaccinated children and adolescents who are at high risk of serious infection should receive both the conjugate and the polysaccharide vaccine. The polysaccharide vaccine is at given at age 2 or later, with a booster 5 years after the first.
Medicare Coverage For The Pneumonia Shot
Part B of Original Medicare does cover the pneumonia vaccine, but there are certain limitations, according to Medicare.gov:
- Medicare Part B covers one shot. Anybody who is enrolled in Part B is entitled to a dose of pneumonia vaccine without having to pay for it if your health-care provider accepts Medicare assignment.
- Under certain circumstances, a doctor may prescribe a second shot of a different typeat least one year after the first dose. Part B may also cover this second dose.
- In either situation described above, you typically wont have out-of-pocket costs as a Part B beneficiary.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend more doses than the amount that Part B pays for. For example, a doctor may suggest a second dose of the PPSV23 vaccine. In this case, its possible that a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan will provide coverage. Otherwise, you might have to pay for these additional services out of pocket. If the cost is a concern, its a good idea to contact Medicare or your Medicare plan to learn how these additional services will be covered or if they will be covered at all.
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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.
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.
Dtap And Tdap Immunization Schedules
The first DTaP immunizations start when children are very young. DTaP shots for young children are typically given at:
- 6 weeks to 2 months
- 4 months
- 4 to 6 years
Thereafter, Tdap booster shots are given to ensure lasting protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
Adolescents are advised to get a booster Tdap shot at around 11 to 12 years. If they miss this, it is OK for them to get a Tdap between 13 and 18 years.
It is recommended that adults get a Tdap shot for one of their tetanus boosters. If you’re 65 and over, Tdap vaccination is also recommended.
What Is A Tetanus Shot
A tetanus shot is a vaccine used to prevent tetanus. It can be given on its own in the event of a possible exposure but is typically bundled with at least one other vaccine. These include vaccines used to prevent the bacterial infections diphtheria and pertussis .
There are four versions used for childhood or booster vaccination:
- DTaP for children under 7
- DT for children under 7
- Tdap for booster vaccinations for older children and adults
- Td for booster vaccinations for older children and adults
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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.
Who Needs A Pneumococcal Vaccination
The pneumococcal vaccine is available in Scotland for all people aged 65 years and over.
It may also be available if you’re under 65 and fall under one of the following risk groups, or have one of the following serious medical conditions:
- problems with the spleen, either because the spleen has been removed or doesn’t work properly
- chronic respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , chronic bronchitis, and emphysema
- serious heart conditions
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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.
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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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.
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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