Who Should Get the Pneumonia Vaccine?

Posted by on Nov 1, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Cough As winter months are nearly upon us and flu season has already started, you might want to get a flu vaccine if you haven’t done so. Often times, seasonal flu develops into pneumonia especially in elderly. Flu vaccine is for both adults and babies who are at least six months of age. On the other hand, pneumonia or pneumococcal vaccine is mainly for people who are over 65 years old and children under two years of age. Keep in mind that you still need pneumonia vaccine if you fall into one of the following categories below.

  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old with diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, alcoholism, cochlear implant (implant in the ear) and sickle cell disease.
  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old with diseases that weaken your immune system such as HIV, AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and chronic kidney failure.
  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old without a spleen (organ behind your stomach).
  • Anyone from 2 to 64 years old who is taking long-term steroids, on chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Anyone who lives in a nursing home.
  • Adults with asthma or cigarette smokers.

The most common organism that causes pneumonia is Streptococcal pneumonia in the United States and pneumonia can be fatal sometimes. Pneumococcal pneumonia spreads via contact with secretions from the lungs. Always wash your hands frequently and cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing to prevent spreading of bacteria.

There are two types of vaccine available. One is for children while the other one is for adults. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or PCV13 is given to infants at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and the last dose at 12-15 months of age. Infants should get a total of 4 doses. Ask your pediatrician if your child misses one dose or has certain medical condition. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine or PPSV23 is given to adults. While the vaccine prevents you from pneumococcal pneumonia, you can still get pneumonia from other bacteria and viruses. If you have received a pneumococcal vaccine before 65 years of age, you may need a booster vaccine after five years.


Contributed by Patricia Hsiao M.D.
Sources: jwatch.org, cdc.gov, uptodate.com

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