Each year in the United States, about 400,000 people are hospitalized with pneumonia, and many of these infections and illnesses might have been prevented by a pneumococcal vaccine.
At Medinet Family Care Clinic, our team offers full immunization and vaccination services for each member of the family, from newborns to the most senior. We understand that vaccinations can get confusing, so we want to spend a little time discussing the pneumococcal vaccine — who should get it and why.
Childhood vaccinations have done a fantastic job at protecting kids against 14 potentially serious diseases, including polio, mumps, whooping cough, and measles.
This childhood protection is extremely important because children, especially under the age of two, don’t have terribly strong immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections and illness.
As part of your child’s early vaccination efforts, we also like to include the PCV13 vaccine, which is designed for infants from six weeks to two years. The PCV13 immunization provides newborns and infants with protection against 13 strains of pneumococci, all of which can lead to pneumonia.
Another point to consider is that early vaccinations also prevent kids from spreading potentially dangerous infections to older members of your household or family.
As important as early protection against pneumococcal infection is, so, too, is late protection, especially in the 65 and older population. For this segment, we recommend the PCV23 vaccination, which protects against 23 strains of pneumococci. If you haven’t received any pneumococcal vaccines up until now, we may administer two different vaccinations to ensure more complete protection.
For all ages, pneumonia vaccines offer about 60-70% protection, but the PCV23 offers an impressive 80% protection rate in people 64 years and older who have a healthy immune system.
Unlike annual flu and COVID vaccinations, you only need one or two shots to provide you with protection against pneumococcal infection when you’re older.
Health risk factors
Though age plays a critical role in determining when you should consider vaccinating against a pneumococcal infection, certain health risk factors should also be plugged into the equation.
We recommend a pneumonia vaccine for people who have the following health risk factors:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Heart disease
- Any lung issues, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
If you are undergoing any treatments that can weaken your immune system, such as chemotherapy or stem cell therapy, or you’re taking immune-suppressing medications, a pneumococcal vaccine is a good idea.
The above list is by no means comprehensive. If you have a pre-existing health condition that isn’t listed above and you’d like to know whether you should receive a pneumococcal vaccine, just ask us.
To learn more about protecting yourself or a loved one from pneumonia, contact Medinet Family Care Clinic in Houston, Texas, by calling our office at 409-996-2058 or by using our online scheduler today.