The flu, COVID-19, and allergies aren’t the only respiratory illnesses and infections to be concerned about this winter. For most 65 and older, pneumonia is also a cause for concern. For seniors, the risk of contracting pneumonia is higher and more common when the weather is changing. Due to the high-risk level, many adults age 65 and over choose to receive the “pneumonia” vaccine.
What is a pneumococcal vaccine?
A pneumococcal vaccine can prevent any illness that is caused by pneumococcal bacteria, like ear infections, sinus infections, meningitis, and pneumonia. In fact, the most common cause of pneumonia is pneumococcal bacteria.
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines. The PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria and pneumonia. And, the PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. It is important to talk with your doctor before getting either vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to vaccines in the past or if you have any severe allergies. You should also tell him or her if you are feeling sick. People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, can still be vaccinated. But if you are moderately or severely ill, your doctor may instruct you to wait until you feel better before getting a vaccine.
For seniors, pneumonia can be very serious and life-threatening. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or COPD. Pneumonia can also develop after you’ve had a case of the flu or a respiratory virus such as COVID-19. It is extremely important to stay current on flu shots each year in addition to your pneumococcal vaccines.
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