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by Chris Prakash, MD
The flu season rolls around, and people know they need a flu shot. But there remains a lot of confusion on who should get a pneumonia shot. Pneumonia is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the United States. An estimated 4000 deaths occur in the United States each year due to pneumococcus, with the vast majority occurring in adults and seniors.
Who should be getting the pneumonia vaccine, how often, is it safe; I will try to answer these questions.
Who is at Risk for pneumonia?:
What is the Pneumonia Vaccine?:
The pneumonia vaccine for adults (Pneumovax) is a polysaccharide vaccine that protects against 23 types (strains) of pneumonia. Pneumonia as a disease has changed and evolved into a more resistant disease to antibiotics. That is why it is so important to be vaccinated against this very serious disease.
Usually, only one dose of the vaccine is necessary for adults. But sometimes you need a second dose:
Anyone under age 10 that needs a second dose, may receive it 3 years after the first dose. Anyone over age 10 that requires a second dose, may receive it 5 years after the first dose.
What are the Side Effects?
Side effects from the vaccine are generally very mild, and it is considered a very safe vaccine. Common side effects include:
Is there a new pneumonia vaccine?
A new pneumococcal vaccine, 13-valent PCV13, has been in use in kids and adolescents since 2010. However, it has only recently been licensed for prevention of pneumococcal disease in adults. In June 2012, ACIP voted to recommend PCV13 for adults aged 19 or older with imunocompromising conditions, functional or anatomic asplenia, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, or cochlear implants. However, PCV13 alone may not provide adequate coverage of disease-causing serotypes and, therefore, ACIP concluded that both PCV13 and PPSV23 should be recommended for adults with these high-risk conditions.
This information is strictly an opinion of Dr Prakash, and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Dr Chris Prakash is a contributing columnist, and author of eParisExtra’s “The Doctor is In” column. He is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology Paris. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Oncology and Hematology. He lives in Paris, TX with his wife and two children, and can be reached at 9037850031, or Sucharu.firstname.lastname@example.org