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What is pneumococcal pneumonia?



Pneumococcal vaccine-preventable pneumonia is a lung disease caused by streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that can infect the upper respiratory tract and can spread to the blood, lungs, middle ear or nervous system. Pneumonia is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable illness and death in the United States. Pneumonia can be spread from person to person through close contact. The elderly are especially at risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from this disease. Also, people who smoke cigarettes, those with certain medical conditions such as chronic heart, lung, liver diseases or sickle cell anemia, asplenia, and HIV are at increased risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia.

 

What is the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine?

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine protects against the 23 most common types of streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (PPSV23) and the pneumonia (pneumococcal) conjugate vaccine protects against 13 types of streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (PCV13), including those most likely to cause serious disease.

 

Who should get the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine?

  • People 65 and older should get a dose even if they have gotten one or more doses of the vaccine before they turned 65.
  • Adults ages 19-64 who smoke or have asthma
  • Anyone ages 2-64 who has a long-term health problem such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, cirrhosis, cerebrospinal fluid leaks or cochlear implant.
  • Anyone ages 2-64 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, or organ transplant.
  • Anyone ages 2-64 who is taking a drug or treatment that lowers the body's resistance to infection, such as long-term steroids, certain cancer drugs, or radiation therapy.

 

Who should not get the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine?

  • Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the pneumococcal vaccine or to any component of the vaccine should not get another dose. Tell your provider if you have any severe allergies.
  • Anyone who is moderately or severely ill should probably wait until they recover before getting the vaccine.
  • Pregnant women should consult with their OB/GYN before getting vaccinated. While there is no evidence that pneumonia is harmful to either a pregnant woman or to her fetus, as a precaution, women with conditions that put them at risk for pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated before becoming pregnant, if possible.

 

What are the side effects of the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine?

Mild-to-moderate problems include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever, muscle aches, and drowsiness

 

Severe problems (rare) including allergic reactions:

 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives
  • Pale skin
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness

 

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.

 

It's extremely rare for these vaccines to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, seek immediate medical attention.