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
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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.
Who Should Have The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Anyone can get a pneumococcal infection. But some people are at higher risk of serious illness, so it’s recommended they’re given the pneumococcal vaccination on the NHS.
- adults aged 65 or over
- children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition
Babies are offered 2 doses of pneumococcal vaccine, at 12 weeks and at 1 year of age.
People aged 65 and over only need a single pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine is not given annually like the flu jab.
If you have a long-term health condition you may only need a single, one-off pneumococcal vaccination, or a vaccination every 5 years, depending on your underlying health problem.
Where Can You Get The Pneumonia Vaccine
Once you know one of the pneumonia vaccines is right for you or your family, you may wonder where to get it. These vaccines are commonly available at medical offices and hospitals, so you might be able to get one where you see your healthcare provider. If they do not have it, many pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens locations, have the vaccine. Your local health department is also a good resource and often gives vaccinations.
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People With Health Problems And The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The PPV vaccine is available on the NHS for children and adults aged from 2 to 64 years old who are at a higher risk of developing a pneumococcal infection than the general population.
This is generally the same people who are eligible for annual flu vaccination.
You’re considered to be at a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection if you have:
- a suppressed immune system caused by a health condition, such as HIV
- a suppressed immune system caused by medicines, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets
- a cochlear implant Action on Hearing Loss has more information about cochlear implants
- had a leak of cerebrospinal fluid this could be the result of an accident or surgery
Adults and children who are severely immunocompromised usually have a single dose of PCV followed by PPV.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Can You Get The Pneumonia Vaccine & The Influenza Vaccine
With flu season here, well also note that you can get the influenza vaccine and either pneumococcal vaccine at the same time. At-risk adults and seniors should always get the influenza vaccine annually, as the flu can further increase risk of contracting pneumococcal disease. However, while you do need the influenza vaccine once a year, you dont need the pneumococcal vaccine annually. In fact, all adults 65 years or older should only receive one dose of PPSV23.
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Who Should Not Get These Vaccines
Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Read the guidelines below specific to pneumococcal vaccines and ask your or your childs doctor for more information.
Children younger than 2 years old should not get PPSV23. In addition, tell the person who is giving you or your child a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if:
You or your child have had a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy.
- Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any of the following should not get PCV13:
- A shot of this vaccine
- An earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine called PCV7
- Any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid
You or your child are not feeling well.
- People who have a mild illness, such as a cold, can probably get vaccinated. People who have a more serious illness should probably wait until they recover. Your or your childs doctor can advise you.
What Are The Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two FDA-approved vaccines that protect against pneumonia:
13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV13
23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV23
These immunizations are called pneumonia vaccines because they prevent pneumonia, which is an infection in the lungs. They are also known as pneumococcal vaccines because they protect against a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Although there are many viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause pneumonia, pneumococcus is the most common cause. Pneumococcus can also cause infections in other parts of the body.
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Vaccines For Adults And Seniors
The National Immunisation Program schedule provides free vaccinations for adults and seniors. You may need booster doses of some vaccines to maintain high levels of protection. Most vaccines are more effective if delivered at a specific age.
The following vaccines are provided free to adults and seniors aged 65 years and over:
How Often Do You Need To Get The Pneumonia Vaccines
Sometimes, vaccines require a booster shot. This means that an additional shot is given after the initial one to make sure that you dont lose immunity over time.
PCV13 never requires a booster shot in children or adults after all recommended doses are received.
Sometimes, PPSV23 requires a booster shot, depending on when and why it was given:
Children who get PPSV23 due to certain health conditions, like cancer and conditions that weaken the immune system, need a booster 5 years after the first dose.
Adults who get PPSV23 before age 65 should get one booster at least 5 years after the first dose, once theyve turned 65. No booster is needed if the first dose is given after age 65.
Adults with a weakened immune system and other specific conditions should have another dose 5 years after their first dose, and then one more dose at least 5 years after their most recent dose, once theyve turned 65.
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Pneumococcal Vaccines Can Provide Important Protection For People Who Are Immunocompromised Because Of Inflammatory Conditions
As you make plans to get the flu shot this season, you should also talk to your doctor about whether you need another vaccine that protects against common respiratory infection: the pneumococcal vaccination.
While you may think of this as a vaccine for those ages 65 and older, thats too late to wait if you have a form of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, psoriatic arthritis , or axial spondyloarthritis .
Living with an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis makes you vulnerable to serious infection and increases your risk of pneumonia, says Justin Owensby, PharmD, PhD, a research pharmacist in the division of clinical immunology and rheumology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham . It is especially important to get vaccinated against infectious diseases. Vaccines strengthen your immune response and protect your health and the health of those around you.
Unfortunately, many people with inflammatory arthritis dont get the pneumonia vaccine as part of their routine care. According to a recent study of rheumatoid arthritis patients, for example, a mere 10 percent of people treated in rural areas met the recommendation from theAmerican College of Rheumatology and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for getting the pneumococcal vaccine.
Heres more information about how and when to get your pneumonia vaccine safely this year.
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 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.
The Importance Of Receiving The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Fact: Thousands of adults are killed by the pneumococcal disease every year in the United Statesespecially adults 65 or older, individuals with chronic health concerns, and those who are immunocompromised.
Myth: Everyone knows that theres a vaccine available to prevent pneumococcal disease from wreaking havoc in compromised individuals.
There are an exceptional number of adults unaware of the pneumococcal diseases dangers and the pneumococcal vaccines existence and benefits. To remove yourself from this statistic, here are the facts:
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What Is Pneumococcal Disease
This contagious disease is caused by pneumococcal bacteria , which is the root concern behind many mild to severe respiratory infections. Pneumococcal bacteria can spread from person to person easily via respiratory droplets shared by coughing, sneezing, or close contact to an infected individual or surface. This disease typically starts as a mild infection in the nose, throat, ears, and sinusesbecoming extreme once it spreads to other parts of the body. In severe cases, an individual can develop pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitiswhich can lead to complications and disabilities .
Which Pneumonia Vaccine Is Best
There is no best pneumonia vaccine. The two available pneumonia vaccines are different, and which one is best for you depends on how old you are and whether or not you have certain medical conditions.
The main difference between Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 is the number of pneumococcus strains the vaccine protects against.
PPSV23 contains polysaccharides from 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria and is mainly given to older adults.
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Problems That Could Happen After Getting Any Injected Vaccine
- People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your doctor if you or your child:
- Feel dizzy
- Have vision changes
- Have ringing in the ears
What Are The Side Effects Of The Pneumonia Vaccines
PCV13 and PPSV23 can both cause mild side effects. Both pneumococcal vaccines are given in the arm and are injected into muscle. Children and adults may experience arm soreness, swelling, or redness where the shot was injected. Other side effects that may occur in adults include:
PCV13 should not be given to children at the same time as the annual flu shot, because of an increased risk of . These seizures are caused by a high fever and occur in up to 5% of children under 5. They can be scary, but dont cause any long-term health problems.
The good news is that the side effects will resolve on their own within a few days.
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Pneumococcal Diseases & Pneumonia Shots
There is a category of diseases called pneumococcal disease, of which pneumonia is one of the most dangerousthe other most dangerous being meningitis. People with diabetes are about three times more likely to die with flu and pneumococcal diseases, yet most dont get a simple, safe pneumonia shot.
Symptoms of pneumonia include:
Cough that can produce mucus that is gray, yellow, or streaked with blood Chest pain
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.
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Why You Need The Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When germs enter the lungs, they can overwhelm the immune system, causing inflammation, cough, fever, chills, and breathing problems.
Bacterial pneumonia, which may occur after you first have a viral infection such as a cold or the flu, is the most common type of pneumonia in adults.
Several types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, but Streptococcus pneumoniae is the type that most frequently causes pneumonia and other types of infection in adults.
Pneumococcal vaccines are designed to reduce the risk of infection from Streptococcus pneumoniae, explains Sarah B. Lieber, MD, MS, rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
If you have a form of inflammatory arthritis, the same chronic, systemic inflammation that targets your joints can also decrease your bodys natural immune defenses. This increase your risk of serious infection like pneumonia. Plus, taking certain medications to manage your condition can also weaken or suppress the immune response, leaving you that much more susceptible to pneumonia.