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Caused by a certain type of bacteria, pneumococcal disease can lead to mild conditions such as ear or sinus infections. In some cases, however, pneumococcal disease can lead to more serious infections like pneumonia, meningitis or bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the blood).
Pneumococcal disease is highly contagious and can be dangerous for certain populations. That’s why vaccination is critical. It is the most effective way to prevent pneumococcal disease.
The vaccine is especially important for people who have lung conditions (like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) because they are more susceptible to complications from pneumococcal disease.
There are currently two vaccines available to prevent pneumococcal disease: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23).
Who should get these vaccines?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend PCV13 and PPSV23 to people who are 65 and older and people with certain health conditions and habits, including:
PCV13 is recommended for children under age 2.
Who should not get these vaccines?
Those with severe allergic reactions to the following should not get PCV13:
Tell your doctor if you are feeling sick. Although mild illnesses, such as the common cold, do not affect the vaccine, more serious illnesses may need to wait until after recovery. Your doctor can help determine what is best in your unique situation.
As a precaution, women should not get PPSV23 while pregnant.
I need both vaccines, can I get them at the same time?
The CDC advises against getting PCV13 and PPSV23 simultaneously. Your doctor can tell you how long you should wait between each vaccine.
Does insurance cover the vaccine?
Most insurance companies will cover the vaccine at little or no cost to you. You can get the vaccine at your primary care doctor’s office, the pharmacy or your lung specialist’s office.
Do you still need the pneumococcal vaccine if you’ve had the flu vaccine?
Absolutely. Both vaccines are equally important in protecting you from disease. Additionally, having the flu increases your risk of pneumococcal disease, so it’s crucial to get both vaccines on schedule.
If you have any questions about pneumococcal disease or the vaccines, contact your doctor. People with lung conditions should especially talk with their doctor about their risk factors and what they can do to prevent pneumococcal disease.
“Pneumococcal.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Learn About Pneumonia.” The American Lung Association.
“Lung Disease Including Asthma and Adult Vaccination.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Adults: Protect Yourself with Pneumococcal Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Pneumococcal Vaccines: What Everyone Should Know.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.