65 or Older? Get Your Pneumonia Shot at the Same Time as the Flu Shot

10.30.2018

senior couple embracing

Each year in the United States, an estimated 400,000 people are hospitalized with pneumonia, a common and very serious infection of the lungs that can affect people of all ages. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people die from this disease each year. Surprisingly, most of the deaths caused by pneumonia are in older adults, not children.

Causes of Pneumonia

There are three main types of pneumonia that circulate among the general population: bacterial, viral and fungal. In the United States, pneumococcal pneumonia is a common cause of bacterial pneumonia. Common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Who’s at Greatest Risk for Pneumonia

Adults 65 and older are considered at high risk for acquiring pneumonia because the human immune system weakens with age. Other groups at risk of developing pneumonia include:

  • All children age two years and younger, and children over two years with certain medical conditions.
  • Those with chronic medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Those with a weakened immune system.
  • Smokers.

If you are at risk, you can protect yourself from the types of pneumococcal bacteria that are most likely to cause serious disease by getting vaccinated. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13®) protects against 13 of the most common bacterial strains that cause pneumonia. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23®) protects against 23 of the most common bacterial strains that cause pneumonia. Learn more about pneumonia vaccine for the elderly.

Get Your Pneumonia Shot With the Flu Shot

Because the flu virus can often lead to viral pneumonia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults 65 and older receive the seasonal flu vaccine as well as the pneumonia shot. Both of these immunizations are covered by Medicare, as well as some private and state health insurance. Most seniors will need to get each pneumonia shot only once without the need for a pneumonia vaccine booster. Any pneumonia shot symptoms are usually mild and go away within a few days.

If you are a senior and have not yet received an anti-pneumonia injection to protect yourself from pneumonia, visit your nearest RediClinic today. RediClinic is open seven days a week with extended weekday hours, and an appointment can be made online. Walk-ins are also welcome!