Pneumonia Vaccine to Prevent Disease
by Ron Kurtus (24 January 2008)
Pneumonia or pneumococcal disease is a serious illness that kills thousands of older people each year. Bacterial pneumonia is the most serious. The infection can attack different parts of the body.
Pneumonia of the lungs is the most common form of this disease, but the bacteria can also enter the blood stream and cause other ailments, such as meningitis.
In older adults and those with reduced immune systems are the most vulnerable to the disease. A simple vaccine can provide resistance to the disease. Everyone in the high risk groups should get a pneumonia vaccine. It has minimal side effects.
Questions you may have include:
- How can pneumonia be prevented?
- Who should get the vaccine?
- What are the side effects of the vaccine?
This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer
Prevention of pneumonia
The first line of defense from getting pneumonia is similar to preventing colds. You should wash your hands after touching items that others have touched and avoid touching mucous membrane areas in your body, such as your eyes, nose and mouth. That does not prevent you from getting pneumonia, but it is a start.
A pneumococcal vaccination is essential in protecting yourself from the serious bacterial pneumonia. One vaccination can protect you up to 10 years against most bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia, as well as other pneumococcal diseases.
Who should get the vaccine?
Those in high risk groups that definitely should get the pneumonia vaccine include:
- Those who are age 65 or older
- People with a chronic illness, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes
- Those who have a weak immune system, such as caused by kidney disease, cancer, HIV infections and other diseases
Some say it is best to get the vaccine any time after age 50, but before age 65, since the results are better at younger ages. The reason for the emphasis of senior citizens getting the pneumonia vaccine is that your resistance to disease drops as you get older. Most of the people that die from pneumonia are over 65.
In the United States, the pneumonia vaccine is covered by Medicare.
Weak immune system
If you have a chronic disease or know that you have a weak immune system, you should get the vaccination to prevent getting the serious pneumococcal disease.
Had pneumonia before
Even if you have had pneumonia before, you should get vaccinated for the disease, because there are many different kinds of pneumonia. The vaccine protects against 88% of the bacteria that causes pneumonia. But note that getting a vaccination does not guarantee that you will never get pneumonia. For example, it does not protect against the less serious viral pneumonia.
You may have mild side effects from the vaccination, but they usually last a very short time. About half of the people getting the vaccine had soreness at the spot where the shot was given, usually on the arm. A very small percentage may have fever and muscle pain. (My side effect was a sore shoulder where the technician stuck the needle. It lasted a few days and then went away.)
The vaccine cannot cause pneumonia, because it is not made from the bacteria itself. Instead, it is made from a bacterial component that is not infectious.
Bacterial pneumonia is a serious illness that kills thousands of people each year. Pneumonia of the lungs is the most common form of this disease, but the bacteria can also cause other ailments, such as meningitis. Those over age 65s and people with reduced immune systems are the most vulnerable to the disease. A simple vaccine can provide resistance to the disease. Everyone in the high risk groups should get a pneumonia vaccine. It has minimal side effects.
Protect your health
Resources and references
Pneumonia - From Mayo Clinic
Pneumococcal Vaccination - From MedicineNet.com
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