Changes to a Vaccine for Pneumonia

Each year in the United States, pneumococcal disease causes thousands of infections including pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections, and ear infections.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that the decision for a patient to receive one of the vaccines for pneumococcal disease be left to doctors and patients. This reverses a 2014 recommendation that all adults age 65 or older should receive the vaccine.

There are two vaccines you must receive to be protected from pneumococcal disease, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar13®) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax ®).

The CDC’s new recommendation involves PCV13, “The changes are that everybody over the age of 65 should still get the Pneumovax 23 but the Prevnar 13 is a discussion to have with your physician or pharmacist.” explains Dr. Megan Leeds, a pharmacist and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Regis University School of Pharmacy. She spoke with 9Health on Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, voted earlier this summer and decided that PCV13 is no longer recommended for adults 65 and older who do not have an immunocompromising condition but that all adults 65 and over should receive a dose of PPSV23. PPSV23 protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.

PCV13 is given to infants before they reach the age of 2, older children and adults who are at increased risk for getting pneumococcal disease, along with adults 65 and over – but only now after a consultation with their doctor. PCV13 protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria.

“If you want that extra coverage or if you have a medical condition such as asthma, COPD, anything that would be more susceptible to a lung disease, chronic smoking, you would definitely also want to get the Prevnar 13,” Dr. Leeds adds.

Before the vaccine, there were about 700 cases of meningitis, 13,000 bloodstream infections and 200 deaths from pneumococcal disease each year in children younger than 5 years old, according to the CDC.

August is Immunization Awareness Month and you can receive a free flu shot at the 9Health Fair this fall. Check out our Find a Fair page to find a location near you. Together, 9Health Fair and Safeway/Albertsons is making it easy and affordable for you and your loved ones to get a flu shot.

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