Reasons to get pneumonia vaccine


Sarah Clawson - Contributing Columnist



Many patients have asked me if they need to get a pneumonia shot. There are many reasons why I encourage my patients to get this important vaccine. These include:

• Pneumococcal disease can be a very serious infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria can cause pneumonia, meningitis (a serious infection of the protective lining of the brain) and infections of the blood stream. It is spread through respiratory droplets such as coughing or kissing.

• Around one million adults in the U.S. get pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria every year. Five to seven percent of those affected will die from it.

• People age 65 and older and adults with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of dying from pneumococcal infection.

• Pneumococcal infection can be prevented. Getting a pneumococcal vaccine is the best way to protect against this infection.

Types of pneumococcal vaccines

There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines that are recommended.

• Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13)

• Protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause most of the severe illnesses in children and adults

• Recommended for children at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months

Recommended in adults age 19-64 with certain medical conditions such as:

• Conditions that affect the immune system (HIV, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin disease, chronic kidney disease, radiation therapy or long-term steroid use)

• Asplenia (a damaged spleen or no spleen)

• Cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid leaks

Recommended in all adults age 65 and older:

• Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax 23)

• Protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.

• Recommended in anyone age 2 or older who are at high risk for disease

• Recommended in adults age 19-64 who smoke cigarettes or have asthma, liver disease or diabetes.

• Residents of long-term care facilities should also be vaccinated.

• Recommended in all adults age 65 and older

Adults age 65 or older

If you are an adult age 65 or older and have never had a pneumonia shot:

• You should be vaccinated with PCV13 (Prevnar 13) and then in 6-12 months receive a second immunization with PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23)

If you are 65 years or older and have received PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23) at age 65 or older:

• You should receive a PCV13 (Prevnar 13) immunization at least 1 year or more after you received your PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23)

If you are now aged 65 or older and received PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23) before age 65:

• You should receive a PCV13 (Prevnar 13) immunization at least 1 year after you received your PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23)

• You should receive a PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23) at least 5 years after your initial PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23) and at least 6-12 months after you received your PCV13 (Prevnar 13)

The providers at Madison Health Primary Care can help you determine which vaccines may be right for you. Madison Health Primary Care is proud to offer both of the pneumonia vaccines. Please call 740-845-7500 to schedule an appointment at Madison Health Primary Care of London or 614-879-8141 to schedule an appointment at Madison Health Primary Care of West Jefferson.

Sarah Clawson is a certified nurse practitioner at Madison Health Primary Care in London.

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Sarah Clawson

Contributing Columnist