A caregiver in a mask looks at her client while talking to a family member. A caregiver in a mask looks at her client while talking to a family member.

The Importance of the Pneumonia Vaccine

With all the focus on COVID, sometimes the importance of the pneumonia vaccine for seniors is overlooked. However, adults who are 65 or older are at risk for pneumonia, and it can be prevented easily.


Why the Pneumonia Vaccine?

Pneumonia is a serious infection in the lungs that can cause a mild to severe illness in anyone. But adults over 65 and children younger than five are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill. Plus, if the senior has a compromised immune system from a medical condition, the risk of complications rises.

Pneumonia can develop from having the flu, a cold, or a fungal infection in the lungs. Other causes of pneumonia can include sinus infections, meningitis, bloodstream infections, and ear infections.

The benefits of getting the vaccine can be experiencing a milder infection with fewer complications. There is a shorter timeline for being sick if pneumonia is contracted. In addition, there is protection against the 23 strains of pneumonia bacteria.


Two Types of Vaccines

There are two kinds of vaccines to prevent pneumococcal disease. One is the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine or PPSV23, and the other is the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or PCV13.

The PPV23 will protect the person from 23 different types of bacteria that pneumococcal disease causes. This is the vaccine that is recommended for any adult 65 or older. It can also be used for anyone who has certain medical conditions, two years old or up, who may need the vaccine.

Most seniors will only need one dose of PPSV23. However, if the dose was given before the age of 65, then another dose needs to be given after 65. The person’s doctor may also suggest that the pneumococcal vaccine PCV13 be provided.

The PCV13 vaccine will protect a senior from 13 different kinds of bacteria which can cause pneumonia. A senior’s family doctor may decide that PCV13 is needed if the person is 65 or older. Therefore, it is recommended that this vaccine be given. Still, the choice is up to the senior unless there is an immunocompromising issue. Then it is recommended highly that the vaccine be given.

Pneumonia can be a severe life-threatening illness for seniors. This is especially true if the senior has other chronic conditions. While the vaccines may not prevent the person from contracting pneumonia, it lessens the chances of severe or life-threatening complications.


Signs and Symptoms of Pneumonia

The signs of symptoms of pneumonia can be chills, fever, or a cough with or without mucus. There can be shortness of breath or chest pain when coughing or breathing. The oxygen levels can be low, there can be headaches and muscle aches. In addition, the person can experience tiredness, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

Pneumonia can be caused by being around other people. For example, it's a frequent illness in nursing homes because many people live in one place.


When The Vaccine Shouldn’t Be Given

The pneumonia vaccine stops about 50% to 70% of pneumonia infections. But there is sometimes the vaccine shouldn't be given. If the person is allergic to the vaccine or has serious allergies. If the person has any allergic reactions to any of the ingredients within the vaccine.

If the senior has a fever, then the person should wait. If the person is mildly ill, it's generally safe to be vaccinated, but if the person has a fever and chills, waiting until the person feels better is the correct procedure.


If There Is a Reaction

Sometimes a person will have a reaction to the vaccine. These reactions could be swelling, pain, or redness at the injection site. Loss of energy, fever, headache, chills, irritability, or loss of appetite can all be signs of a reaction.

If there is a reaction, then call 911 and go to the hospital immediately.

A pneumonia vaccine can literally be a lifesaver; talk to a doctor today about it.

If you develop pneumonia complications, Right at Home has in-home professions that can care for you. Call us today.

Right at Home Nassau Suffolk, NY
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