Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs. Its cause may be from a bacterial infection, virus, fungi, parasites or a chemical or physical injury to the lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are a half-million cases of pneumonia each year, and 50,000 people die. Fifty percent of those deaths are people 65 years and older and could have been prevented with the pneumonia vaccine.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Who Should Get the Vaccine?
It is best to get the shot before age 65, since the effects are greater the younger you are. However, if you have not been vaccinated and you are 65 years or older, you should have the vaccine, even if you have had pneumonia before. If you are not sure if you have had the shot, it is still safe to get one. Children 2 years of age or older who have long-term health issues like heart disease or diabetes or have a condition that lowers the body's resistance to infection (such as kidney failure, leukemia or radiation) need to get the shot, as well. Certain Native American and Alaskan native populations are also recommended to receive the vaccination.
- It is best to get the shot before age 65, since the effects are greater the younger you are.
- However, if you have not been vaccinated and you are 65 years or older, you should have the vaccine, even if you have had pneumonia before.
How Often Do I Need the Vaccine?
Does the Pneumonia Shot Have Side Effects?
The CDC says that it is not clear how long the vaccine lasts. Younger patients who receive a pneumonia shot are frequently advised to get a second dose five or 10 years later, but there is concern that the subsequent doses may not provide as much immunity. If you are 65 or older, you will need only one shot. For those who are younger, you may need a booster. Consult with your doctor to be sure.
- The CDC says that it is not clear how long the vaccine lasts.
- For those who are younger, you may need a booster.
The pneumonia shot does not prevent all types of pneumonia, but it is effective in protecting people from the more aggressive pneumococcal diseases. Infectious disease expert Dr. Pierce Gardner says the risk of getting pneumonia goes up significantly around the age of 50. As a result, he favors having the recommended age for the pneumonia vaccine changed from 65 to 50 2. This recommendation is still being reviewed by the CDC.
- The pneumonia shot does not prevent all types of pneumonia, but it is effective in protecting people from the more aggressive pneumococcal diseases.
- As a result, he favors having the recommended age for the pneumonia vaccine changed from 65 to 50 2.
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- Colorado Fdn for Medical Care: pneumonia shots
- NPR: pneumonia shot widely recommended
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- American Lung Association. Pneumonia symptoms and diagnosis. Updated May 27, 2020.
- Morris DE, Cleary DW, Clarke SC. Secondary bacterial infections associated with influenza pandemics. Front Microbiol. 2017;8:1041. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.01041
- Chughtai M, Gwam CU, Mohamed N, et al. The epidemiology and risk factors for postoperative pneumonia. J Clin Med Res. 2017;9(6):466–475. doi:10.14740/jocmr3002w
- Garin N, Marti C, Scheffler M, Stirnemann J, Prendki V. Computed tomography scan contribution to the diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2019;25(3):242–248. doi:10.1097/MCP.0000000000000567
- Mantero M, Tarsia P, Gramegna A, Henchi S, Vanoni N, Di Pasquale M. Antibiotic therapy, supportive treatment and management of immunomodulation-inflammation response in community acquired pneumonia: review of recommendations. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2017;12:26. doi:10.1186/s40248-017-0106-3
- Principi N, Esposito S. Prevention of community-acquired pneumonia with available Pneumococcal vaccines. Int J Mol Sci. 2016;18(1):30. doi:10.3390/ijms18010030
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Pneumonia. Mayo Clinic. Updated March 13, 2018.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Pneumonia. National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Annette Rivlin-Gutman wrote and produced videos for 18 years. She has also contributed to various online publications, authored the children's book "Mommy Has to Stay in Bed" and contributed to teacher resource books by Gryphon Publishing. Rivlin-Gutman holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and is a yoga instructor in Northern California.