Who Should Get a Pneumonia Vaccination?

February 18,2019

The word pneumonia describes a group of symptoms with inflammation in the lungs where air spaces fill with fluid due to an infection from bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. Pneumonia is a common cause of death among geriatric and young patients whose immune systems are compromised. Cases of pneumonia can be serious if neglected, as time is often of the essence when treating the disease. Without the proper healthcare, a severe attack of pneumonia can kill a patient within hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one million people seek hospital care annually in the United States with about 50,000 men and women dying from the disease each year.

Two Types of Pneumonia Vaccines

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two vaccines to immunize the patient against specific types of pneumonia that are most likely to cause illness or death. These include:

  • PCV13 - Produced and distributed under the name Prevnar 13, this strain prevents 13 of the most severe types of pneumonia.
  • PPSV23 - Produced and distributed under the name Pneumovax 23, this strain protects against an additional 23 types of pneumonia.

Neither vaccine can cause someone to have pneumonia. Instead, a patient's immune system recognizes the threat in the same defensive way as it would to the real bacteria.

Pneumonia Shots in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Orange Park

Children should be given four doses of PVC13 as an infant at prescribed intervals. For any child who starts late, they should still take the required dosage that is adjusted based on age. Adults in a high-risk group should get both shots about one year apart. Side effects of either vaccine tend to be mild but may involve headaches, low-grade fever, muscle or joint pain, chills and drowsiness. More extreme reactions are less common but can include tongue swelling, hives and heavy breathing.

Pneumonia is a serious medical condition. However, vaccinations are currently not recommended for healthy individuals between 18 and 64. Persons with a chronic respiratory illness, organ transplant recipients, and patients with a weakened immune system (e.g. - person undergoing chemotherapy or taking immune suppressive drugs) are at increased risk for complications following a bout with pneumonia. If you or a member of your family, falls into a high risk category for pneumonia, contact PrimeMED to schedule a pneumonia shot at our Jacksonville, Orange Park or St. Augustine location.