Pneumonia Vaccine - Prevention and Side Effects

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Is it possible to prevent pneumonia? Is there a pneumonia vaccine?

It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia, but one can take steps to reduce the chance of contracting the condition by quitting smoking, practicing good hand-washing, and avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections.

A vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae (also known as Pneumococcus). There are two types of vaccine: PPSV23, a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine against 23 types of the bacteria, and PCV13, a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 types of the bacteria. These vaccines may not always prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia if it does occur.

It is recommended now that all adults over 65 receive doses of each vaccine, starting with PCV13 and followed by PCV23 within six months to 1 year. PPSV23 is recommended for all people over age 65 and all people over age 2 who are at risk for pneumonia (who have a weakened immune system or certain chronic conditions). Adults aged 19-65 with asthma or who smoke cigarettes should also receive the PPSV23. The PCV13 vaccine is recommended for all infants and for young children who did not receive it earlier in life, for adults over 65 in combination with the PCV23, and for adults with a weakened immune system or certain other risk factors.

Seasonal influenza vaccines are available yearly and are recommended to decrease the chance of contracting influenza. Vaccines against the measles virus and varicella virus, two viruses that can also cause pneumonia, are also available.

Avoidance of areas where fungal pathogens are endemic is recommended to prevent fungal pneumonias. There is no antifungal vaccine available; however, for some high-risk patients, some clinicians have recommended prophylactic antifungal drugs.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Sophie, Female (Patient) Published: July 22

I am 66 and received a pneumonia shot yesterday. I am a very active person and did some hiking later that afternoon with my grandson and daughter. By evening the site of the injection was hard and throbbing and after a couple of hours it felt like my arm was being sawed off! I've had 4 children and had major back surgery 6 months ago. This pain was excruciating, and I never had pain like this even with my back surgery. Luckily I had some hydrocodone left over from my surgery and took one. It helped somewhat, but my arm was still sensitive to the touch. I can't say I was allergic to this vaccine (I eat eggs weekly) but I certainly had a bad reaction. Today is day 2 and I've slept all day. My arm is still sore, but bearable at this point. I wouldn't wish this reaction on anyone.

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