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Infection And Vaccination Together
To my friends message, I instantly replied that she should absolutely get the vaccine. After getting vaccinated, my friend could be comfortable knowing that she has long-lasting, effective immunity and less of a chance of spreading the coronavirus to her friends and family.
But more good news has emerged since I sent that message. A new study showed that vaccination after infection produces six times more antibodies than a vaccine by itself. This isnt to say that anyone should try to get infected before they get vaccinated vaccine immunity alone is more than strong enough to provide protection and the dangers of a fight with COVID-19 far outweigh the benefits. But when my friend and the many others who were already infected get their vaccines, theyll be well protected.
Natural immunity from infection is simply far too unreliable in the face of such a devastating virus. Current COVID-19 vaccines offer incredibly strong, consistent protection to the great majority of people. So, for anyone eligible, even those who have already had a SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 vaccines offer immense benefits.
Left: A doctor holds up a sign to signal his station needs more vaccine doses at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 13, 2021. Lindsey Wasson/Reuters
How Is Aspiration Pneumonia Diagnosed
Generally, the first thing your provider will do in any situation is take a complete medical history and perform a physical examination. Theyll ask you about your current signs and symptoms. One thing that is a little tricky about aspiration pneumonia is that often no one actually sees you breathe in an object or food or saliva.
In addition to taking note of your symptoms, your provider will order tests such as:
- Chest X-ray and/or a computed tomography scan. In cases of aspiration pneumonia, inflammation is often seen at the bottom of your lungs.
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What To Know About The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Who needs it: The CDC recommends one pneumococcal vaccine for adults 19 to 64 with certain risk factors . If you work around chronically ill people say, in a hospital or nursing home you should get the vaccine, even if you’re healthy. People 65 and older can discuss with their health care provider whether they should get PCV13 if they haven’t previously received a dose. A dose of PPSV23 is recommended for those 65 and older, regardless of previous inoculations with pneumococcal vaccines.
How often: Space immunizations out. You should receive a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine , then, a year later, a dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine . People with any of the risk factors should get one dose of PCV13 and PPSV23 before age 65, separated by eight weeks.
Why you need it: Pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, kills around 3,000 people a year. Young children and those over 65 have the highest incidence of serious illness, and older adults are more likely to die from it.
Editors note: This article was published on Oct. 26, 2020. It was updated in September 2021 with new information.
Also of Interest
Can I Get Pneumonia Even If I Had The Pneumonia Shot
ByBarbara Fisher | Submitted On July 22, 2009
Pneumonias can be caused by a variety of bacteria such as Staph, Strep, Klebsiela, as well as other bacteria and even other kinds of germs.
Pneumovax, the pneumonia vaccine or Pneumonia Shot, protects you from Strep Pneumonia only. Strep pneumonia was the most common and is one of the most serious forms of pneumonia. The vaccine was developed to protect susceptible people from catching this particular germ and developing the pneumonia that it causes.
Many other germs out there can cause pneumonia. These range from viruses, such as those responsible for the common cold, to the one that causes chicken pox. Some of these, like the chickenpox virus, can be treated with special antiviral medications. Most viral infections must run their course, as we do not have many antiviral agents for treatment. Some viral pneumonias, however, can be severe and may require hospitalization in order to maintain adequate breathing and oxygen supply.
As we noted previously, pneumonia can also be caused by bacterias like those mentioned above. These are treated with antibiotics. If the infection is severe, these will be administered in the hospital and the patient’s breathing and oxygen requirements will be supported too.
“Walking Pneumonia”, is the common term for a class we call “Atypical Pneumonias” and is caused by organisms such as Mycoplasma and Legionella. These respond quite well to certain antibiotics.
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You Didn’t Respond Fully To The Vaccine
Your immune system may not respond fully to the vaccine and you may still get the flu if:
- You have an underlying medical condition that causes a weakened immune system, such as cancer or diabetes
- The vaccine wasn’t stored properly and as a result it’s not as effective
- The vaccine wasn’t given properly and as a result it’s not as effective
Even if you don’t respond fully to the vaccine, you are still less likely to have serious complications from the flu. This is especially important for children and older adults who are at the highest risk of experiencing serious flu complications.
Research shows that the majority of people who are vaccinated against the flu have significantly less severe symptoms and complications when they get sick than those who are unvaccinated.
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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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?
What Is Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspiration pneumonia is pneumonia that is caused by something other than air being inhaled into your respiratory tract. These non-air substances can be food, liquid, saliva, stomach contents, toxins or even a small foreign object.
Theres also a condition called aspiration pneumonitis which is caused by the same type of thing happening but there is only inflammation and irritation, not infection. Its difficult to tell the two conditions apart.
Other names for aspiration pneumonia include anaerobic pneumonia, necrotizing pneumonia and aspiration of vomitus.
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What Is Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is caused by Streptococcus pneumonia, bacteria that can attack different parts of the body. The bacteria can cause serious infections of the lungs , the bloodstream and the covering of the brain .
Pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious illness, accounting for 10 percent to 25 percent annually of all pneumonias. Nationally, about 40,000 persons die as a result of pneumococcal pneumonia each year, but the illness is particularly dangerous for the very young, the elderly and persons with certain high-risk conditions. For example, among people 65 years of age and older with pneumococcal pneumonia, about 20 percent to 30 percent develop bacteremia. At least 20 percent of those with bacteremia die from it, even though they receive antibiotics.
Things You Need To Know About Pneumonia
If youve been stuck in bed with flu-like symptoms and a wet cough that produces mucus and doesnt respond to cold and sinus medicines, you may have pneumonia.
A lung infection that triggers inflammation in one or both of your lungs, pneumonia is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but viral infections can cause it, too.
There are several different bacteria that can cause pneumonia, says UNC Health family medicine physician Dana Neutze, MD, PhD. But streptococcus pneumonia is one of the most common types of bacteria that causes it.
Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, cough that produces green, yellow or bloody mucus, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Here are four things you need to know about pneumonia.
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How Pneumococcal Vaccination Protects Against Covid
Protection against serious COVID-19 disease by pneumococcal and Hib vaccines makes sense for several reasons. First, recent studies reveal that the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and in some studies nearly all, are infected with streptococci, which causes pneumococcal pneumonias, Hib or other pneumonia-causing bacteria. Pneumococcal and Hib vaccinations should protect coronavirus patients from these infections and thus significantly cut the risk of serious pneumonia.
I also found that pneumococcal, Hib and possibly rubella vaccines may confer specific protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 by means of molecular mimicry.
Molecular mimicry occurs when the immune system thinks one microbe looks like another. In this case, proteins found in pneumococcal vaccines and, to a lesser degree, ones found in Hib and rubella vaccines as well look like several proteins produced by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Two of these proteins found in pneumococcal vaccines mimic the spike and membrane proteins that permit the virus to infect cells. This suggests pneumococcal vaccination may prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection. Two other mimics are the nucleoprotein and replicase that control virus replication. These proteins are made after viral infection, in which case pneumococcal vaccination may control, but not prevent, SARS-CoV-2 replication.
Are There Side Effects
About half of those who are given pneumococcal vaccine have very mild side effects, such as redness and pain at the injection site. Less than 1 percent of those getting the vaccine may develop fever, muscle aches and severe local reactions. Serious side effects, such as dangerous allergic reactions, have rarely been reported. As with any drug or vaccine, there is a rare possibility that allergic or more serious reactions or even death could occur. The pneumonia shot cannot cause pneumonia because it is not made from the bacteria itself but from an extract that is not infectious.
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What Is The Outlook If I Have Aspiration Pneumonia
Most people who get aspiration pneumonia and get treatment will survive. The prognosis for aspiration pneumonia also depends on your overall health and other conditions that you may have and how sick you were when you started treatment.
Untreated aspiration pneumonia can be dangerous, resulting in things like lung abscesses or lung scarring. In fact, it can result in death.
Do You Need To Get Both Vaccines
Most people do not, but some may, depending on age and other health conditions.
All healthy children should get PCV13, and children with certain health conditions should also receive PPSV23. When both vaccines are needed, they are given 8 weeks apart, and PCV13 is given first.
Adults aged 65 and over
All adults aged 65 and older should get PPSV23. If you are a healthy adult over 65, you should talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need PCV13.
PCV13 used to be recommended for all adults over age 65, but the ACIP recently changed its recommendations. This is because, as more children have been vaccinated with PCV13, the types of pneumococci that this vaccine protects against are less likely to spread and infect older adults. PCV13 can still be given, and your healthcare provider can help you decide if it is right for you.
Adults younger than 65
For adults younger than 65, PPSV23 is recommended in certain situations. If you smoke or have a chronic illness, like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , or liver disease, you should get PPSV23 at a younger age. Adults with other conditions, like a weakened immune system, should have both vaccines before age 65.
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Delayed Diagnosis Serious Symptoms
A few days into August, I started feeling sore and overly exhausted. I saw a doctor, but the initial diagnosis was that some dirty diving equipment Id used while working in a pool the day before had made me sick. I was sent home, but I felt even worse a couple days later and went back. Thats when I tested positive for COVID-19. I was given some pain medication, but I knew I was sick so I called my sister, who is a pulmonary specialist. She had been treating COVID-19 patients at UT Southwestern since March 2020.
Sonja overnighted me a pulse oximeter so I could update her on my oxygen levels, which were dropping pretty fast. She said it might be pneumonia and I needed to go to a hospital, but being the stubborn younger brother, I waited. Within two days, I could barely breathe. My pulse oximeter showed that my oxygen saturations were 85%, and I knew I had to go in. My wife took me to the emergency room, which was an hour away in Nashville.
I was in the ICU for four days. I received remdesivir and dexamethasone, which have become the standard drugs for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The doctor told me if this had happened a year earlier, before they had a better understanding of the virus, I would have been on a ventilator.
Who Should Not Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
Again, its best to determine this with your doctor, but as a general rule the CDC states you should not get the pneumococcal vaccine if:
- You or your child has had a severe or life-threatening allergy to the current PCV13 or Prevnar 13®) vaccine, the past PCV7 vaccine or any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid.
- You or your child are currently battling a severe illness.
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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.
What Are Pneumonia Vaccines
Now that you understand how vaccines work, lets talk about the pneumonia vaccines! There are two pneumonia vaccines intended for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration , which includes the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine .2 Both of these pneumonia vaccines contain inactivated, or dead, germs. Because these vaccines contain dead germs, they cannot replicate in the body or cause disease.1 The differences between the two pneumonia vaccines are shown below:
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