The Pneumonia vaccine and who needs it?

By Stephanie McIlwain



Pneumococcal pneumonia can strike anyone at any age, but is a serious threat to people over 65. A vaccine is effective in warding off pneumonia but less than one-quarter of the eligible population take advantage of it.

Pneumococcal pneumonia accounts for 10 to 25 percent of all pneumonia cases, and it is the only form of pneumonia for which there is a vaccine.

Once the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, pneumonia death rates dropped precipitously in 1936 with the development of antibiotics. But despite medical advances in its treatment, pneumonia still strikes millions of Americans each year and still is deadly to many.

The pneumonia vaccine reduces both your chances of getting pneumonia and your risk of death if you do get it.

Healthy older adults may need only one shot every 10 years. People with one

or more chronic medical problems are encouraged to have the vaccine every five to six years. Take every advantage you can against pneumonia and get vaccinated.

Vaccination with pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended

for all people who meet any of these criteria:

Age 65 or older

Age 2 to 64 years with any of these conditions:

Functional or anatomic asplenia (sickle cell disease, splenectomy)

Immunocompromising conditions (HIV infection, leukemia, congenital immunodeficiency, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, generalized malignancy) or on immunosuppressive chemotherapy

Organ or bone marrow transplantation

Chronic renal failure or nephrotic syndrome

Chronic cardiovascular disease (congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathies)

Chronic pulmonary disease (not asthma)

Cerebrospinal fluid leak

Diabetes mellitus

Alcoholism or cirrhosis

Candidate for or recipient of cochlear implant

Who would need a second dose??

Age 65 or older and previously vaccinated with PPV before age 65 years (if five years have elapsed since the first dose)

At highest risk of serious pneumococcal disease or likely to have a rapid decline in pneumococcal antibody levels

Side effects of the vaccine may include soreness and redness at the injection site

for one to two days.