Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs that can be caused by a variety of different organisms. These include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and the diagnosis depends on laboratory testing to confirm the presence of an infectious process. Treatment is based on the type and severity of symptoms, age, and overall health status of person’s immune system.
Pneumonia can be prevented with vaccination which is generally recommended once every 5 years for people over 65 years old or those who are in high risk groups such as those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems. Vaccination is recommended for all children aged 2-18 at each visit to their pediatrician’s office.
Read on for more information about pneumonia vaccine timing and side effects associated with it.
What is Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a common lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that inflame the air sacs in one or both lungs, filling them with fluid or pus. It can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include a cough, fever, difficulty breathing and chest pain.
Treatment for pneumonia typically involves antibiotics and rest, depending on the severity of the infection.
Knowing about pneumonia is important, especially for those who are at a higher risk of getting it.
Types of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an infection that affects the lungs, and it is typically caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, or parasites. There are several types of pneumonia, including community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP), and healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP).
Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type of infection and is usually acquired outside of a hospital system. It can be caused by bacterial agents such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, as well as viral agents like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
Hospital-acquired pneumonia occurs within 48 hours of admission to an acute care facility and often results from long-term antibiotic use or weakened immunity in patients. It may be caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Healthcare-associated pneumonia enters the lower airways when nursing home residents are exposed to bacteria during procedures or through poor handwashing techniques among caregivers. Healthcare facilities can also use equipment contaminated with certain germs (such as Legionella) that cause HCAP.
In addition to these three primary types of infections, aspiration pneumonia may result from breathing in food particles or stomach contents into the lungs; this type of illness occurs more frequently in people who are suffering from symptoms associated with dysphagia such as stroke victims or those suffering from severe neurologic impairment.
Symptoms of Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a serious infection or inflammation of the lung. It can be caused by a variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Symptoms of pneumonia vary depending on age, health status and organism causing the infection.
Common symptoms in adults include:
- chest pain when breathing or coughing
- coughing (with phlegm or mucus)
- fever, sweating and chills
- shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- loss of appetite, fatigue and general malaise
In infants and toddlers, additional symptoms may include: irritability, refusal to eat, rapid breathing, and a bluish color to the skin due to inadequate oxygen levels.
Diagnosis is usually made based on history/symptoms along with chest radiograph medical imaging. Treatment for pneumonia typically consists of antibiotics for bacterial infections or antiviral medications for viral infections. Vaccines are available that can help prevent some types of Pneumonia. Consult your physician regarding the need for vaccination based on your individual risk factors.
Who should get the vaccine
Getting a pneumonia vaccine is a key way to help protect yourself from catching the illness. It is recommended that everyone over 65 years old get the pneumonia vaccine, as well as any other individual with a weakened immune system. There are different types of pneumonia vaccines available and the recommendations for who should get them vary.
Let’s take a look at who should get the vaccine and how often:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone over 2 years of age receive the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) vaccines.
- Children between 2 and 5 years old: Children in this age group should get a single dose of PCV13 at least 8 weeks after they get their last dose of PPSV23.
- Adults 65 years or older: All adults in this age group should get a single dose of PCV13 followed by a single dose of PPSV23 at least 1 year later. If a person is 65 or older and hasn’t previously received the PPSV23, he or she should get both immunizations within 12 months of each other.
- People aged 19 through 64: People at increased risk for severe pneumonia due to underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes mellitus, sickle cell anemia, alcoholism and/or cirrhosis due to any cause should be vaccinated with only one dose of PPSV23. Repeat vaccination with PPSV23 may be recommended for people with certain high-risk conditions. Talk to your doctor about when you need to receive other booster shots.
- People aged 2 through 18: who are at increased risk for pneumonia due to certain medical conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis or immune system problems can receive one dose of PCV13 first followed by one or more doses of PPSV23 depending on their age and health condition. This also applies to people who have had their spleen removed or have certain cochlear implants (a hearing device). Ask your healthcare provider which immunization schedule is right for you or your family member.
People with certain medical conditions
Anyone with a long-term medical condition may have an increased risk of developing serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19, and thus should be prioritized to receive the vaccine. If you have any of the following conditions, you should speak to your healthcare provider about scheduling a vaccination:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Heart or circulatory diseases such as heart failure or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Liver Disease
- Neurological conditions such as dementia
- A weakened immune system due to cancer treatments or other medical conditions such as HIV infection.
Additionally, people who are overweight (a BMI of 25 and above) may be at greater risk of severe illness if they were to contract COVID-19. It is important for people in these categories to speak with their healthcare provider regarding their own individual risk factors and eligibility for receiving the vaccine.
How often should we get the vaccine
Staying up to date with vaccinations is important for staying healthy, and the same is true for the pneumonia vaccine. The vaccine can help protect against severe cases of pneumonia and other illnesses caused by the pneumococcal bacteria. It’s important to get the vaccine when the time is right.
Let’s look at how often one should get the pneumonia vaccine:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get a flu vaccine once every year. In some cases, for those at high risk of complications or hospitalization from the flu, you may need to receive it twice during the same season.
Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of severe illness from influenza. This includes pregnant women, children under five years of age, adults over 65 and people with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. Also anyone living in a long-term care facility should be vaccinated annually against the flu.
To ensure that you remain protected against the flu viruses circulating in your community each year, it’s important to get your vaccine before the start of every flu season. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October to ensure maximum protection throughout the winter months when Flu activity peaks in the US. It’s also possible to still benefit from vaccination even later in winter if a person has not yet been infected with any virus variants currently circulating!
Benefits of the vaccine
The pneumonia vaccine is designed to protect against a bacterial infection that can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and other serious symptoms. Receiving the vaccine can protect individuals from severe illness and even death. In the United States alone, an estimated 50,000 people die every year due to illnesses caused by pneumonia.
The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for all adults aged 65 and over. For those under 65 with certain chronic medical conditions—such as diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), liver or kidney disease—the vaccination is also recommended and sometimes required by law.
By getting vaccinated you benefit from the protection of numerous types of pneumococcal bacteria that could lead to illnesses and other serious complications. These include bloodstream infections such as sepsis or meningitis (inflammation of tissue covering the brain). The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all individuals receive a dose of each type of pneumococcal vaccine as it provides even greater protection against infection.
Further benefits extend beyond your own personal protection; vaccinations also help reduce the risk of spreading diseases through contact with others who share your environment – particularly in communities where the vaccine is not widely accepted or administered. Immunity provided by vaccination enhances “herd immunity,” which ultimately helps protect communities against outbreaks of this potentially deadly illness.
The pneumonia vaccine is very safe, with few people having any serious side effects. The most common side effects include redness and soreness at the injection site, as well as fever and fatigue. Most people will recover in a day or two, however some may experience more severe reactions such as a rash or hives. If you experience any of these symptoms after receiving the vaccine, please contact your doctor immediately.
Although rare, the vaccine may cause anaphylaxis – a serious allergic reaction that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Symptoms may include rash, difficulty breathing, wheezing and swelling of the mouth or throat. If you experience these symptoms after receiving the pneumonia vaccine, seek emergency medical attention right away.
Overall, receiving the pneumonia vaccine is very safe and is recommended for everyone over age 65 by Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC recommends that everyone over 65 should get a booster dose every 5 years to remain fully protected against pneumonia and its complications. Vaccination schedules can vary by age, underlying health conditions and other factors, so it’s best to consult your doctor on a personalized schedule for you.
The answer to how often you should get the pneumonia vaccine depends on your age, health conditions, and risk factors for infection. In most adults 65 years and older, a single dose of the vaccine is recommended. For anyone in this age group who has never been vaccinated before, a second dose may be needed after five years.
For younger adults between 19 and 64 years old, the vaccine is recommended if certain risk factors are present. Immunocompromised individuals may need to receive the vaccine multiple times over time to maintain protection against infection.
It is important to speak with your doctor to determine the right frequency of vaccinations for you. Remember, getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect against pneumonia and other serious infections that can affect your overall health.