About The Pneumonia Vaccine
Pneumonia is a common enough illness, but its one that can have potentially devastating reactions. Fortunately, theres a way to prevent the serious side effects of the disease, and possibly prevent someone from getting it to begin with.
The pneumonia vaccine is a safe way to prevent most cases, and effectively lowers the chances of catching the disease entirely. People who do get pneumonia after getting the pneumonia vaccination anyway will have a much milder case of the disease if they do happen to contract it.
Immunization : Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine
Vaccines or needles are the best way to protect against some very serious infections. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization strongly recommends routine immunization.
This vaccine protects adults and children two years of age and older against pneumococcal infections like pneumonia. This type of vaccine is only effective in people two years of age and older, and should not be given to children under two years of age. A different type of pneumococcal vaccine is effective in children under two years of age. This fact sheet refers to the “polysaccharide” vaccine only.
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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Why Is Pneumococcal Vaccine Important
Pneumococcal vaccine can prevent pneumonia and other infections caused by 23 types of the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. These 23 types account for approximately nine out of 10 cases of pneumococcal disease. The vaccine is recommended for people with certain medical conditions listed below, and people 65 years of age and older. About eight out of 10 cases occur in these high- risk groups. The vaccine protects about 50 to 80 per cent of people against pneumococcal infection. Vaccination also makes the disease milder for those who may catch it. This pneumococcal vaccine has been used in Canada since 1983.
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.
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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 .
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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Summary Of Information Contained In This Naci Statement
The following highlights key information for immunization providers. Please refer to the remainder of the Statement for details.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacterium that can cause many types of diseases including invasive pneumococcal disease , and community-acquired pneumonia .
For the prevention of diseases caused by S. pneumoniae in adults, two types of vaccines are available in Canada: pneumococcal 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine containing 23 pneumococcal serotypes and pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine containing 13 pneumococcal serotypes.
NACI has been tasked with providing a recommendation from a public health perspective on the use of pneumococcal vaccines in adults who are 65 years of age and older, following the implementation of routine childhood pneumococcal vaccine programs in Canada.
Information in this statement is intended for provinces and territories making decisions for publicly funded, routine, immunization programs for adults who are 65 years of age and older without risk factors increasing their risk of IPD. These recommendations supplement the recent NACI recommendations on this topic that were issued for individual-level decision making in 2016.
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.
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How Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Work
There are currently two vaccines administered in the United States:
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
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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.
How Is The Pneumococcal Vaccine Made
Like the Hib vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine is made from the sugar coating of the bacteria. Antibodies directed against the pneumococcal polysaccharide protect the child without having to take the risk that their first encounter with natural pneumococcus will result in permanent disabilities or death.
Unfortunately, children less than 2 years old don’t develop very good immune responses to this polysaccharide alone. So the pneumococcal vaccine was made in a manner similar to the Hib vaccine . The pneumococcal polysaccharide is linked to a harmless protein. This version of the vaccine is referred to as the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Once linked, young children are able to make an immune response to the polysaccharide. The big difference between the pneumococcal vaccine and the Hib vaccine is the number of different types of polysaccharides that need to be included in the vaccine. Whereas, there is really only one strain of Hib that causes disease in children, there are about 90 different strains of pneumococcus. Fortunately, most of the serious disease in young children is caused by the 13 strains of pneumococcus contained in the vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccine was found to be highly effective in preventing severe pneumococcal infection in a large trial of children injected with the vaccine. About 40,000 children were included in the initial trial of the vaccine. Since its licensure, the pneumococcal vaccine has been given to millions of children safely.
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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.
Available Vaccines And Vaccination Campaigns
A pneumococcal vaccine that protected against 14 different strains was licensed in 1977, and expanded to protect against 23 strains in 1983. This vaccine is a polysaccharide vaccine called PPSV23 . However, it is most effective in adults, and does not consistently generate immunity in children younger than two years old. A separate vaccine for children called PCV7 was licensed in 2000. PCV7 is a conjugate vaccine it was expanded to include protection against 13 strains in 2010, and renamed PCV13 . PCV13 protects against the bacterial strains responsible for the most severe childhood pneumococcal infections.
PCV7 was added to the recommended childhood vaccination schedule in 2000 . Since the initial recommendation, invasive pneumococcal disease in children has dropped by nearly 80% in the United States.
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Concurrent Administration Of Vaccines
Pneumococcal vaccines may be administered concomitantly with other vaccines, with the exception of a different formulation of pneumococcal vaccine . There should be at least an 8 week interval between a dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and a subsequent dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine, and at least a 1 year interval between a dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine and a subsequent dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine refer to Immunocompromised persons for information regarding administration of pneumococcal vaccines to HSCT recipients. Different injection sites and separate needles and syringes must be used for concurrent parenteral injections. Refer to Timing of Vaccine Administration in Part 1 for additional information about concurrent administration of vaccines.
Patients In Health Care Institutions
Residents of long-term care facilities should receive Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Refer to Recommendations for Use for information about pneumococcal vaccination of individuals at increased risk of IPD. Refer to Immunization of Patients in Health Care Institutions in Part 3 for additional information about vaccination of patients in health care institutions.
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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.
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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Pneumococcal Infections After Influenza
Pneumococcus is known as an opportunistic infection because it lives in the respiratory tract of people without causing disease, but when the respiratory tract is compromised by an infection such as influenza, the bacteria then invades the lungs , bloodstream , or brain and spinal cord . Activities like smoking can also disrupt the lining of the nose and throat and allow for pneumococcal infections and subsequent disease.
Persons With Chronic Diseases
Refer to Immunization of Persons with Chronic Diseases in Part 3 for additional information about vaccination of people with chronic diseases.
Asplenia or hyposplenia
Hyposplenic or asplenic individuals should receive Pneu-C-13 vaccine and Pneu-P-23 vaccine, followed by a booster dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Refer to Table 3, Table 4 and Booster doses and re-immunization for additional information.
Chronic kidney disease and patients on dialysis
Individuals with chronic kidney disease should receive age appropriate pneumococcal vaccines. Children less than 18 years of age with chronic kidney failure or nephrotic syndrome, should receive Pneu-C-13 vaccine and Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Adults with chronic kidney failure should receive Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Adults with nephrotic syndrome should receive Pneu-C-13 and Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Due to the decreased immunogenicity and efficacy of Pneu-P-23 vaccine in children and adults with chronic kidney failure, 1 booster dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine is recommended. Refer to Table 3, Table 4 and Booster doses and re-immunization for additional information.
Chronic lung disease, including asthma
Chronic heart disease
Chronic liver disease
Endocrine and metabolic diseases
Non-malignant hematologic disorders
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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
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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