Pneumonia (Pneumococcal Vaccine)

Why get vaccinated?

Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). There are different types of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumococcal pneumonia, bacteremia, meningitis, and otitis media.  The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis include stiff neck, fever, mental confusion and disorientation, and visual sensitivity to light (photophobia). The symptoms of pneumococcal bacteremia (a bloodstream infection) may be similar to some of the symptoms of pneumonia and meningitis, along with joint pain and chills. The symptoms of otitis media (middle ear infection) typically include a painful ear, a red or swollen eardrum, and sometimes sleeplessness, fever and irritability. Complications of Pneumococcal disease can be fatal. In some cases, it can result in long-term problems, like brain damage, hearing loss, and limb loss. Pneumococcus (a type of bacteria) is in many people's noses and throats and is spread by coughing, sneezing, or contact with respiratory secretions. Why it suddenly invades the body and causes disease is unknown. Pneumococcal vaccine is very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However it is not guaranteed to prevent infection and symptoms in all people.

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Who needs to get vaccinated?

There are currently 2 types of pneumococcal vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) PREVNAR and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) PNEUMOVAX23. Refer to each vaccine for specific recommendations.

Can the Pneumonia Vaccine help combat COVID 19 infection outcome?

As Coronavirus sweeps across the world, many are wondering if shots to prevent pneumonia will be effective in fighting off COVID-19.

The current Pneumonia Vaccinations will NOT prevent pneumonia caused by coronavirus (COVID 19). Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not protect against coronavirus, which is a newly discovered virus with no vaccine or cure to date, according to the World Health Organization.

However, COVID 19 viral pneumonia can be made more severe by a bacterial infection in the lungs which can be combated by the shot. This is why experts still advise to get the necessary vaccinations against respiratory illnesses.



Which adults need the PCV13 vaccine?

§ All adults 65 years of age and older.

§  Adults 19 years of age or older with certain medical conditions, and who have not previously received PCV13. Medical conditions include:

§  Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks

§  Cochlear implant(s)

§  Sickle cell disease and other hemaglobinopathies

§  Functional or anatomic asplenia

§  Congenital or acquired immunodeficiencies

§  HIV infection

§  Chronic renal failure

§  Nephrotic syndrome

§  Leukemia

§  Hodgkin disease

§  Generalized malignancy

§  Long-term immunosuppressive therapy

§  Solid organ transplant

§  Multiple myeloma

§  Adults with one of the above listed conditions who have not received any pneumococcal vaccine, should get a dose of PCV13 first and should also continue to receive the recommended doses of PPSV23. Ask your healthcare provider for details.

§  Adults who have previously received one or more doses of PPSV23, and have one of the above listed conditions should also receive a dose of PCV13 and should continue to receive the remaining recommended doses of PPSV. Ask you healthcare provider for details.



o    Which children and adults need the PPSV23 vaccine?


§  All adults 65 years of age and older.

§  Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a long-term health problem such as: heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid or cochlear implant.

§  Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: Hodgkin’s disease; lymphoma or leukemia; kidney failure; multiple myeloma; nephrotic syndrome; HIV infection or AIDS; damaged spleen, or no spleen; organ transplant.

§  Anyone 2 through 64 years of age who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body’s resistance to infection, such as: long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, radiation therapy.

§  Any adult 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma.

§  Residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

PPSV may be less effective for some people, especially those with lower resistance to infection.

But these people should still be vaccinated, because they are more likely to have serious complications if they get pneumococcal disease.