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.
What Are Some Side Effects Of Getting A Vaccine
Common side effects for all these vaccines are mild and may include pain, swelling, or redness where the vaccine was given.
Before getting any vaccine, talk with your doctor about your health history, including past illnesses and treatments, as well as any allergies.
It’s a good idea to keep your own vaccination record, listing the types and dates of your shots, along with any side effects or problems.
How Many Doses Of The Pneumococcal Vaccine Do I Need
Most adults only need the vaccine once. But your doctor may recommend you get another shot if its been a while since you have the vaccine or for other reasons. Ask your doctor how often you need the shot.
You do not have to get the pneumococcal vaccine every year, like the flu shot. You may only need to get it once and a booster shot a few years later. Find out what your doctor recommends.
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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.
If you have heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, asthma, or COPD , youâre more likely to have a weakened immune system, which makes you more likely to get pneumonia.
The same goes for people who receive chemotherapy, people who have had organ transplants, and people with HIV or AIDS.
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.
Heavy drinkers. If you drink too much alcohol, you may have a weakened immune system. Your white blood cells donât work as well as they do for people with a healthy immune system.
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.
Vaccines To Help Prevent Pneumonia
Pneumococcal disease is a serious infection that spreads from person to person by air. It often causes pneumonia in the lungs and it can affect other parts of the body.
There are two pneumococcal vaccines: PPSV23 and PCV13. According to the CDC, adults who are age 65 and older should get the PPSV23 vaccine. Some older adults may also need the PCV13 vaccine. Talk with your health care professional to find out if you need both pneumococcal vaccines.
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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.
When To Get The Vaccine & What To Expect
Of course, before seeking the pneumococcal vaccines, its important to first speak with your primary care physician and other providers in your healthcare network. Both vaccines are safe but can have side effects and should be avoided by individuals with allergic reactions to any of the components in the vaccine. Keep in mind, its recommended that you not receive both vaccines at the same time. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if both vaccinations are the right choice for your needs. If both vaccines are needed, PCV13 should be given prior to PPSV23. Its important to schedule a separate visitation at least one year after the professionally suggested PCV13 vaccination to receive a dose of the PPSV23 vaccine.
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What Is A Pneumococcal Vaccine
Engineered to prevent the pneumococcal disease, the pneumococcal vaccine is an injection that helps restrain illnesses caused by pneumococcal bacteriawhich includes pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, bacteremia, and even meningitis. There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines:
- PCV13 protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria and pneumoniaeasy to remember because 13 is in the name!
- PPSV23 protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteriaeasy to remember because 23 is in the name!
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.
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Booster Doses Of Pneumococcal Vaccine
If you’re at increased risk of a pneumococcal infection, you’ll be given a single dose of the PPV vaccine.
But if your spleen does not work properly or you have a chronic kidney condition, you may need booster doses of PPV every 5 years.
This is because your levels of antibodies against the infection decrease over time.
Your GP surgery will advise you on whether you’ll need a booster dose.
Effectiveness Of The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Children respond very well to the pneumococcal vaccine.
The introduction of this vaccine into the NHS childhood vaccination schedule has resulted in a large reduction in pneumococcal disease.
The pneumococcal vaccine given to older children and adults is thought to be around 50 to 70% effective at preventing pneumococcal disease.
Both types of pneumococcal vaccine are inactivated or “killed” vaccines and do not contain any live organisms. They cannot cause the infections they protect against.
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Why Are People With Asthma At Risk
For people with asthma, pneumococcal disease can be very serious. But doctors dont fully understand why. It may be because airways with asthma are different. It may make the lungs more likely to be affected by pneumococcal bacteria and infection. Corticosteroids, a common asthma medicine, may also increase your risk because they suppress your immune system.6-8 This is why health care providers say you should get the vaccine for pneumococcal disease if you have asthma.1
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
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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 Does The Pneumonia Vaccine Work
There are currently two vaccines administered in the United States:
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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.
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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Pneumococcal Disease And Covid
The measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also help prevent pneumococcal bacteria from spreading.
Not all infections involving pneumococcal bacteria or the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 involve a serious course of illness. A large percentage of people do not get ill or develop a relatively mild case. However, there are people who have a higher risk of developing pneumococcal disease, or are more likely to have a serious course of illness as a result. That usually involves pneumonia. These people often also have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. That may be the case due to older age, or a chronic disease that affects the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system.
If you have had severe pneumonia due to COVID-19 and then develop pneumococcal disease, or the other way around, you could become very ill. A new infection involving a different virus or bacterium in lungs that are already damaged could be more serious. The recovery phase could be longer or more difficult as a result.
There are people who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19, flu, or pneumococcal disease. This may be due to their age, a chronic illness, or decreased immunity due to illness or medication. It is unknown how likely it is that someone would have a serious infection with more than one of these at the same time.
Who Needs One Or Two Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two pneumococcal vaccines, each working in a different way to maximize protection. PPSV23 protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Those 23 strains are about 90- to 95-plus percent of the strains that cause pneumonia in humans, Poland explains. PCV13, on the other hand, is a conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. PCV13 induces immunologic memory, he says. Your body will remember that it has encountered an antigen 20 years from now and develop antibodies to fight it off.
In order to get the best protection against all strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia, the CDC has long recommended that everyone 65 or older receive both vaccines: PCV13 , followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine at a later visit. But the agency is now saying that PCV13 may not be necessary for healthy people 65 and older, suggesting that the decision be left up to patients and their physicians as to whether that extra skin prick is appropriate.
“Anyone who reaches the age of 65 and is in any way immunocompromised or has any of the listed indications for pneumococcal vaccine because they’re in a high-risk group for example, if they have diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, or are a smoker should continue to get both vaccines, says Schaffner.
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The Different Types Of Pneumococcal Vaccine
The type of pneumococcal vaccine you’re given depends on your age and health. There are 2 types.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is used to vaccinate children under 2 years old as part of the NHS vaccination schedule. It’s known by the brand name Prevenar 13.
Children at risk of pneumococcal infections can have the PPV vaccine from the age of 2 years onwards. The PPV vaccine is not very effective in children under the age of 2.
Will People Have To Get A Covid
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In less than a year from the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, several safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were created and authorized for use in the United States and globally.
Tens of millions of doses of these vaccines have already been administered. Will people have to receive a COVID-19 vaccine every year, as is recommended for seasonal influenza? We asked Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
What the frequency of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination may be in the future is an open question. The need for repeat vaccination is conditioned by two factors that do not always overlap the duration of immunity and the need to update the contents of the vaccine. For example, tetanus boosters are given every 10 years and are not different in composition from the original vaccine. Influenza, on the other hand, because of its ability to mutate away from vaccines, often necessitates strain changes on an annual basis. The novel coronavirus, though sharing some similarity with influenza in terms of symptoms and transmission, is from a distinct family of viruses and has its own rates of mutation.
Lastly, I personally would be interested to learn about the experience with veterinary coronavirus vaccines and the duration of immunity they confer and whether they need regular updates.
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