The pneumonia vaccine is one of many vaccinations that can reduce the chance of people catching harmful diseases. In particular, this vaccine can protect the body from pneumococcus bacteria, which is why it is also often referred to as the pneumococcal vaccine. Here are the basic facts you should know before you get it.
What Is It?
When injected into the body, this vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that will fight off pneumococcus bacteria. This can prevent both pneumonia, which is an infection in the lungs, and meningitis, which is a serious brain infection that sometimes develops along with pneumonia. However, keep in mind that there are more than 80 kinds of pneumococcus bacteria, and the vaccine covers about 23 of them, according to MedicineNet.
Why Is It Important?
While many people who get pneumonia can overcome it, this disease can also lead to some serious health consequences and even death. In fact, according to WebMD, the bacteria that can lead to pneumonia is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, which is also deadly. In addition, it can cause the following health issues:
- Ear infections
- Blood infections
- Brain damage
Who Should Get the Vaccine?
Similar to other vaccines, people with the weakest immune systems tend to benefit the most from this type of vaccination. The first pneumococcal vaccine for adults was created in 1977, but the CDC reports that it wasn’t until 2000 that the immunization schedule in the U.S. was altered to include the pneumonia vaccine for infants under the age of 2. For this reason, most infants now receive the vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 months.
In addition, anyone over the age of 65 is encouraged to get the pneumonia vaccine, though the CDC states that only about 62 percent of adults ages 65 and older have actually gotten it. And according to Boom Magazine, people with the following conditions at any age should also get the vaccine:
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- No spleen
- Smoking habit
However, you should not get the vaccine if you are allergic to any of the ingredients or if you are currently sick.
How Long Does It Last?
Most adults only need one dose of the vaccine in their lifetime. However, if you are 65 or older and got the vaccine more than 5 years ago, your doctor might recommend a booster shot. You might also need a second dose if you no longer have a spleen or have a disease that lowers your immunity. In addition, since infants get a different variation of the pneumonia vaccine, they get it in 4 doses.
Where Can You Get It?
You can get the vaccine from your doctor, who will likely let you know if he or she recommends it for you. But most urgent care centers and retail walk-in clinics also offer it. Your insurance provider should cover the cost since it is considered preventive care.