Immunisation Against Pneumococcal Disease For Adults
Adult immunisation against pneumococcal disease is available free of charge under the National Immunisation Program Schedule for:
- any person with certain serious medical risk conditions
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older
- people aged from 70 years.
Some medical risk conditions for which it is recommended to receive pneumococcal immunisation do not qualify for free immunisation under the National Immunisation Program. Speak to your doctor or immunisation provider for further information about the vaccine and its cost.
Who Needs The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the PPSV23 vaccine for all adults 65 years or older as well as adults 19 years or older with certain medical conditions that could put them at greater risk of infection. The PCV13 vaccine, on the other hand, should be a shared decision between the patient and clinician due to additional medical considerations.
How Long Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Last
For most adults, one dose of the pneumonia vaccine should last a lifetime. In other words, you wont usually need to get another dose. This makes it different to the flu vaccine, which is given every year.
For some people, boosters of the pneumonia vaccine will be needed. This will be the case for people who have underlying health conditions that make them high-risk for pneumonia and related conditions. Your doctor will let you know if you need another vaccine.
If youre somebody who needs top-ups of the pneumonia vaccine, youll be able to receive them for free on the NHS.
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Should You Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
New guidelines say those 65 and up need two shots to ward off this disease
It’s the time of year for colds and other respiratory illnesses. Most are mild. But if you or your parent have a fever, cough, chest pain and trouble breathing, it could be pneumonia, a much more serious disease especially for those over 65.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause severe illness or death. About one in five people who get pneumonia outside of a healthcare setting need to be hospitalized. That’s why it’s important for all people 65 and older to get vaccinated against the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new recommendations that people 65 and up should get two shots, spaced six to 12 months apart.
Why Get the Shots?
About 1 million people are hospitalized with pneumonia in the U.S. each year and 50,000 people die of it. Most are adults.
A bacterium called pneumococcus is one of the most common causes of severe pneumonia. It can also cause meningitis and bacteremia, or blood stream infection. The latter two are usually very severe, causing hospitalization or even death.
The good news: The two pneumococcal vaccines can be very valuable for preventing severe disease. The shot given first is the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, also known by the brand name Prevnar13. The second shot is the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or Pneumovax.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Does Medicare Cover Vaccines For Older Adults
Medicare Part B covers vaccines that protect against the flu and pneumococcal disease and the hepatitis B vaccine if youre at increased risk for hepatitis B. It also covers vaccines that you might need after an injury or coming into contact with a disease .
Medicare Part D plans generally cover more vaccines than Part B. But depending on your Medicare Part D plan, you may have out-of-pocket costs for these vaccines. Contact Medicare to find out whats covered.
Did you know? There is a high-dose flu vaccine and an adjuvanted flu vaccine, which includes an adjuvant that creates a stronger immune response. Both vaccines are designed to be more effective in older adults. Learn more about flu vaccines for adults age 65 and older .
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How Do You Get Pneumonia
You may get pneumonia:
- After you breathe infected air particles into your lungs.
- After you breathe certain bacteria from your nose and throat into your lungs.
- During or after a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold or influenza .
- As a complication of a viral illness, such as measles or chickenpox.
- If you breathe large amounts of food, gastric juices from the stomach, or vomit into the lungs . This can happen when you have had a medical condition that affects your ability to swallow, such as a seizure or a stroke.
A healthy person’s nose and throat often contain bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia. Pneumonia can develop when these organisms spread to your lungs while your lungs are more likely to be infected. Examples of times when this can happen are during or soon after a cold or if you have a long-term illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
You can get pneumonia in your daily life, such as at school or work or when you are in a hospital or nursing home . Treatment may differ in healthcare-associated pneumonia, because bacteria causing the infection in hospitals may be different from those causing it in the community. This topic focuses on community-associated pneumonia.
Immunizations Are Even More Important As We Age
As we age, the immune system declines in its ability to fight off infections, which makes people ages 65 and older more vulnerable to diseases like influenza, COVID-19, pneumonia, and shingles.
People of this age group are also at a higher risk for serious complications related to these diseases compared to younger populations. The flu in a 40-year-old is very different than in an 80-year-old.
According to our experts, while a 40-year-old might be in bed for a few days nursing the flu with rest, an 80-year-old is more likely to experience more serious symptoms that could lead to hospitalization, and in the most serious and unfortunate circumstances, can even be a cause of death.
These are five important vaccines to consider if you are age 65 or older:
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The 5 Vaccines Every Person Over Age 65 Should Consider
Vaccines are not just a childhood past time. They play an important role in protecting you in every phase of life. And they become particularly important during the elder years when risks to certain diseases climb higher.
For older patients in assisted living or those in larger, more populated care settings, vaccinations are even more important, as exposure risk to communicable diseases like COVID-19, the flu and pneumonia are higher.
Certain vaccines are proven to be safe and very effective in preventing several diseases that can have very serious implications for aging populations.
AdventHealth explains how five important vaccines can help keep people age 65 and older as healthy and vibrant as possible.
Persons With Inadequate Immunization Records
Children and adults lacking adequate documentation of immunization should be considered unimmunized and should be started on an immunization schedule appropriate for their age and risk factors. Pneumococcal vaccines may be given, regardless of possible previous receipt of the vaccines, as adverse events associated with repeated immunization have not been demonstrated. Refer to Immunization of Persons with Inadequate Immunization Records in Part 3 for additional information about vaccination of people with inadequate immunization records.
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When To Get The Vaccine
Thereâs no such thing as pneumonia season, like flu season. If you and your doctor decide that you need to have a pneumonia vaccine, you can get it done at any time of the year. If itâs flu season, you can even get a pneumonia vaccine at the same time that you get a flu vaccine, as long as you receive each shot in a different arm.
Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Adults And Seniors
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people get additional free annual influenza vaccines and pneumococcal vaccine at 50 years of age through the National Immunisation Program.
Please see your doctor for advice on what you may need.
Generally, adults wont need boosters. We recommend you talk to your doctor if you are not sure:
- if you have had all the recommended vaccines
- if may need boosters
- if someone in your care may need additional vaccines or boosters.
Please note that the National Immunisation Program does not cover adults and seniors for missed or catch-up vaccines. You can buy additional vaccines privately when you need to.
Refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age can get National Immunisation Program vaccines for free. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood.
Check the National Immunisation Program schedule and talk to your doctor or immunisation provider if you have not had all the recommended childhood vaccinations.
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How Much Do Pneumovax 23 And Prevnar 13 Cost
Pneumovax 23 and Prevnar 13 can be quite expensive without insurance. One dose of Pneumovax 23 currently costs around $135 cash price, while one dose of Prevnar 13 costs around $250 cash price. With a GoodRx coupon, you might be able to reduce your cost for these to around $90 and $195, respectively. Read here for information on how to use a GoodRx coupon for vaccines.
All health insurance marketplace plans under the Affordable Care Act, and most other private insurance plans, must cover pneumococcal vaccines without charging a copayment or coinsurance when an in-network provider administers the vaccine even if you have not met a yearly deductible. Medicare does not cover either vaccine.
Remember: The recommendations for who should get a pneumonia vaccination are based on risk factors and age, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you think you might need one. You should be able to receive both Pneumovax 23 and Prevnar 13 at your local pharmacy. Depending on which state you live in, these vaccines may not require a prescription. Be sure to reach out to your pharmacist for more information. The CDC has more information about these vaccinations here.
Vaccines Help Maintain Your Health
Vaccines have minimal risks and are generally very safe. Even healthy people need vaccines. Ask your health care provider about these vaccines at your next appointment to determine what is best for your preventative health.
Michelle Twombly, CNP, is a certified nurse practitioner at UH Family Medicine Center in Strongsville.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia
The signs and symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to severe. The symptoms depend on the type of germ that caused the infection, your age and overall health. Mild signs and symptoms of pneumonia are often similar the symptoms of a cold or flu, but the effects of pneumonia last longer.
Signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:
- Chest pain when you breathe or cough
- Confusion or changes in mental awareness
- Cough, which may produce phlegm
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Lower-than-normal body temperature
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
Newborns and infants may not show any sign or symptoms of the infection. However, they may vomit, have a fever, cough, be restless or tired, or have difficulty breathing and eating.
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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.
How Can You Prevent Pneumonia
Experts recommend immunization for children and adults. Children get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of their routine shots. If you are 65 or older or you have a long-term health problem, it’s a good idea to get a pneumococcal vaccine. It may not keep you from getting pneumonia. But if you do get pneumonia, you probably won’t be as sick. You can also get an influenza vaccine to prevent the flu, because sometimes people get pneumonia after having the flu.
You can also lower your chances of getting pneumonia by staying away from people who have the flu, respiratory symptoms, or chickenpox. You may get pneumonia after you have one of these illnesses. Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
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How Should I Approach Getting Vaccinated
Prioritizing is the name of the game plan during 2021 and 2022. Everyone really shouldve had the COVID vaccine by nowif they havent or theyre 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, weve 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.
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?
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Adults At High Risk Of Ipd
Adults with immunocompromising conditions resulting in high risk of IPD, except HSCT, should receive 1 dose of Pneu-C-13 vaccine followed at least 8 weeks later by 1 dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine, if not previously received. The dose of Pneu-C-13 vaccine should be administered at least 1 year after any previous dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine. Refer to Immunocompromised persons for information about immunization of HSCT recipients.
Immunocompetent adults with conditions or lifestyle factors resulting in high risk of IPD should receive 1 dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine, if not previously received. One dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine is also recommended for all adults who are residents of long-term care facilities and should be considered for individuals who use illicit drugs.
Some experts also suggest a dose of Pneu-C-13 vaccine, followed by Pneu-P-23 vaccine, for immunocompetent adults with conditions resulting in high risk of IPD as this may theoretically improve antibody response and immunologic memory. However, Pneu-P-23 vaccine is the vaccine of choice for these individuals, and if only one vaccine can be provided, it should be Pneu-P-23 vaccine, because of the greater number of serotypes included in the vaccine.
Adults at highest risk of IPD should also receive 1 booster dose of Pneu-P-23 vaccine refer to Booster doses and re-immunization.
Table 4 – provides recommended schedules for adult immunization with pneumococcal vaccines.
Should You Get A Flu Shot
In general, every person with diabetes needs a flu shot each year. Talk with your doctor about having a flu shot. Flu shots do not give 100% protection, but they do make it less likely for you to catch the flu for about six months.
For extra safety, it’s a good idea for the people you live with or spend a lot of time with to get a flu shot, too. You are less likely to get the flu if the people around you don’t have it.
The best time to get your flu shot is beginning in September. The shot takes about two weeks to take effect.
If youre sick , ask if you should wait until you are healthy again before having your flu shot. And don’t get a flu shot if you are allergic to eggs.
You are advised to continue to take the general precautions of preventing seasonal flu and other communicable illnesses and diseases:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash. If you dont have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
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