Pneumonia vaccines help prevent developing pneumonia, a lung infection, commonly caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus. When the lungs become infected with this disease, breathing becomes very difficult. Although the vaccine cannot prevent all cases, it can lower your chances of catching the terrible disease. Even if a patient still contracts pneumonia from this germ, it can prevent complications from the pneumonia, such as requiring life support ventilation.
Pneumonia vaccination is usually given to babies younger than two years old and to two groups of adults. First, those 65 and older are eligible for the vaccination, as we know that in senior individuals, the body’s defenses begin to weaken and make it easier to catch pneumonia and fight it off. Second, it is offered to adults younger than 65 who have certain medical conditions that make it easier to develop pneumonia. This includes diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD, tobacco use, heavy drinking, cancer, chemotherapy patients, organ transplant patients, people getting over surgery or severe illness, and people with HIV or AIDS, among others. When your immune system is weak because of illness or injury or because it’s helping you recover form surgery, it can’t fight off germs as well as it normally can.
Not everyone needs to get the vaccination. If you’re a healthy adult between the ages of 18-64, you can probably skip the vaccine. You also should skip the vaccine if you are allergic. Do not receive the vaccine while you are pregnant or feeling under the weather. Unlike flu season, there is no pneumonia season. You cannot get pneumonia from receiving the pneumonia vaccine either. The shot does not contain the actual bacteria that causes the illness. Mild side effects from the shot may include: swelling, soreness, redness at injection location, mild fever, sore muscles, irritability, or loss of appetite.
If you believe you may be eligible for the pneumonia vaccination, please speak with your primary care provider. Second doses may sometimes be given 5-10 years later, depending on your certain circumstances.