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
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.
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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Which Adults Should Get The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The following groups of adults should get both types of the pneumococcal vaccine :
- Adults 65 years and older because they are at high risk of pneumococcal infections
- Adults without a functioning spleen
- Adults who are immune compromised by disease, chemotherapy or steroids
- Individuals who are HIV positive
The following groups of adults should get the polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine regardless of age:
- Adults who smoke or suffer from alcoholism
- Adults with heart or lung disease, liver disease, asthma, diabetes or cancer
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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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?
When Should I Get The Second Dose
The CDC recommends that adults ages 50 and older get a second dose of Shingrix two to six months after their first dose. If youve waited longer than six months since your first dose of Shingrix, its safe to get a second dose right away. Most people dont need to repeat the first dose.
Some immunocompromised adults may need a second dose within one to two months. If you have a disease or are taking medication that affects your immune system, talk to your healthcare provider about the best timeline for your two doses of the shingles vaccine.
Also Check: How Often Should I Have A Pneumonia Jab
Find Discounts On Prevnar 13 And Pneumovax 23
Without insurance, pneumonia vaccines can be expensive. Find discounts from ScriptSave WellRx on the out-of-pocket cost of Prevnar 13 or Pneumovax 23.
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New Recommendations For Pneumonia Vaccines Prevnar 13 And Pneumovax 23
There are 1.7 million people in the United States visiting emergency departments with pneumonia as the primary diagnosis, according to an annual National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, and about 50,000 people die every year due to pneumonia. This is why its essential for vulnerable populations to protect themselves from this disease, especially older adults.
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Who Should Get Vaccinated This Fall
Really, everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although you can still get the flu even after youve been vaccinated knowing youve had it will likely help your healthcare team diagnose you if you develop symptoms that may be shared by COVID-19 and flu, such as:
Updates To Pneumonia Vaccine Recommendations For Adults Over 65
There are two types of vaccines against pneumococcal disease: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine . PCV 13 is available under the brand name Prevnar 13 and PPSV23 is sold as the brand Pneumovax 23. For all adults aged 65 years or older, CDC used to recommend a routine series of Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 vaccines. However, due to the decline of pneumococcal disease among seniors as a result of vaccinations, guidelines have changed.
In June 2019, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decided that for healthy adults aged 65 or older, the vaccine may not be necessary. ACIP now recommends that patients have a conversation with their doctor to decide whether to get Prevnar 13. However, older adults who have a high risk for pneumococcal disease should still receive both Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Additionally, Pneumovax 23 is still recommended for all adults over age 65.
|Old Recommendation for Older Adults||New Recommendation for Older Adults|
|For all adults 65 years old or older*:Administer 1 dose of PCV 13 first, and give 1 dose of PPSV23 at least 1 year later||For adults 65 years old or older who do not have immunocompromising condition*:Administer 1 dose of PPSV23For adults 65 years old or older with an immunocompromising condition, cochlear implant, or cerebrospinal fluid leak*:Administer PCV13 first, and give PPSV23 at least 8 weeks|
* For more information, visit CDC website at
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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.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Pcv And Ppsv Vaccines
Kids may have redness, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given. A child also might have a fever after getting the shot. There is a very small chance of an allergic reaction with any vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccines contain only a small piece of the germ and so cannot cause pneumococcal disease.
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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
How Do You Catch Pneumococcus
Pneumococcus is a bacterium that is commonly found lining the surface of the nose and the back of the throat in fact, about 25 of every 100 people are colonized with pneumococcus. Many children will come in contact with pneumococcus sometime in the first two years of life. Because most adults have immunity to pneumococcus, a mother will passively transfer antibodies from her own blood to the blood of her baby before the baby is born. The antibodies that the baby gets before birth usually last for a few months. However, as these maternal antibody levels diminish, the baby becomes vulnerable. Most children who first come in contact with pneumococcus don’t have a problem. But every year tens of thousands of children suffer severe, often debilitating, and occasionally fatal infections with pneumococcus most of these children were previously healthy and well nourished.
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Doctors Support The Change
Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell that there was never any compelling evidence for the previous recommendation, adding, I am glad it has been changed.
Watkins says that the move may help more children get vaccinated, noting the convenience factor. Under the updated guidance, families only have to make one trip to get vaccinated instead of several under the previous recommendations, he says.
John Schreiber, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, tells Verywell that the changed guidance seems like a reasonable thing to do.
Schreiber anticipates that some parents may still be wary to give their children other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, but say that new recommendations are sound.
I dont have any concerns with this, Schreiber says. But, he adds, the CDC and AAP will monitor children to see what happens next. If it turns out that children are complaining about more side effects after getting vaccinated, Im sure the recommendations can be modified.”
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.
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 .
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Is It True That More Than One Type Of Infection Can Cause Meningitis
Yes. Everyone has heard it on the news the story of a local student infected with meningitis. Such a report inevitably results in many questions and a great amount of concern and even fear among families with children in the affected school.
There are some important considerations when this happens. First, it is important to remember that meningitis refers to an infection that has reached the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Second, it can be caused by viruses or bacteria .
Viral meningitis, the most common type of meningitis, is often less severe than bacterial meningitis. Vaccine-preventable diseases that can cause viral meningitis include measles, mumps, chickenpox and influenza.
Most, but not all, cases of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by vaccination. The bacteria most often associated with meningitis include meningococcus, pneumococcus, and Haemophilus influenzae type B . Fortunately, by the age of 2, most children are fully immunized against pneumococcus and Hib and most adolescents are protected against meningococcus.
What To Know About Mild Side Effects
As with any vaccine, you may experience some mild side effects after receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.
Mild side effects vary depending on which vaccine you receive. The side effects will usually go away within a few days.
Possible side effects of the PCV13 vaccine include:
- redness or discoloration, pain, or swelling at the site of the shot
- sleepiness or drowsiness
- mild fever
How Do The Pneumonia Vaccines Work
Like all vaccines, pneumococcal vaccines work by showing the immune system a version of the microbe, or a part of it, that is responsible for the infection. The pneumococcal vaccine contains part of the pneumococcus bacterias outer shell, made of molecules called polysaccharides. The immune system learns to recognize it, attack it, and defend the body against it, should it ever come into contact with the real bacteria.
The body does this by making antibodies against the shell of the pneumococcus bacteria. These antibodies stay in your bloodstream as part of your immune system. If you are exposed to pneumococci in the future, the antibodies recognize the bacterias shell and launch a targeted defense.
There are strains of pneumococcus, so the vaccines are made up of molecules from many of those strains.