FAQ About the Pneumonia Shot: Who Should Get It and How Often
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 900,000 Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia every year, most pneumonia-related deaths occur in adults age 65 and older. The American Lung Association reports that in 2013, those in the 65+ age group accounted for about 85 percent of all pneumonia deaths. Seniors are at greater risk because the immune system weakens as the body ages and cannot fight off infections as well. Seniors are also more likely to be suffering from other illnesses that make their body more susceptible to infection.
Who Should Get the Pneumonia Shot
If you’re wondering “Should I get a pneumonia shot?”, the answer will generally be determined by your age. The CDC recommends pneumonia vaccination for all babies and children younger than age two, and all adults 65 years or older. Your clinician may also advise pneumonia vaccination if you have certain medical conditions or risk factors like smoking, but don’t fall within these age groups.
Types of Pneumonia Vaccines
There are two vaccines for pneumonia that protect against different types of pneumonia bacteria.
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13®) protects against 13 of the most common bacteria that cause pneumonia.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23®) protects against an additional 23 types of pneumonia bacteria.
How Often to Get the Pneumonia Shot
How often you should get the pneumonia shot depends on age and your current immunization status. The CDC recommends two pneumococcal vaccines for all adults 65 years or older. Seniors should receive one dose of PCV13 first, followed by one dose of PPSV23 at least one year later. If you have already received any doses of PPSV23, one dose of PCV13 should be given at least one year after receipt of the most recent PPSV23 dose.
Medicare Covers the Pneumonia Vaccine
Currently, Medicare Part B pays for both of these pneumococcal vaccines when given one year apart. Seniors, get immunized against the pneumonia vaccine at RediClinic! Make an online appointment and be seen same-day or next-day, or walk in at your convenience.