What do you know about pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcal disease is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria that can cause infection in the upper respiratory tract. The CDC estimates that more than 150,000 hospitalizations from pneumococcal disease occur each year in the U.S. Pneumonia is the most common disease caused by pneumococcal infection. Older adults and those with certain medical conditions are at greatest risk for infection, complications and death.
How is pneumococcal spread?
The disease is spread by close contact between people. Pneumococcal bacteria is commonly found in the respiratory tract (mouth, nose, throat) and is spread into the air by the coughing or sneezing of an infected person. Infection occurs in the respiratory tract but can spread to the lungs, bloodstream, nervous system (brain) or middle ear (otitis media).
What types of symptoms does the pneumococcal virus cause?
Pneumonia symptoms can vary from mild illness to severe illness that can require hospitalization. Individuals will respond to the infection depending on the type of bacteria causing the infection, the person’s age and health conditions.
Symptoms include: cough, fever, chills, shortness of breath, rapid/shallow breathing, sharp chest pain that worsens when coughing or taking deep breaths, loss of appetite, low energy, confusion (in elderly persons).
How can I protect myself/my family from the pneumococcal virus?
You can reduce the risk of getting pneumonia by having good health habits.
- Practicing good hygiene after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, eating a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise can help you from getting sick from viruses.
- Avoid smoking; smoking can increase the risk of getting pneumonia as tobacco damages the lungs.
- Get vaccinated! Some pneumonia infections can start from the flu; getting a yearly flu shot to prevent seasonal influenza can help to prevent pneumonia infection. Lastly, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are eligible for a pneumonia vaccine.
Vaccination for pneumonia is recommended for children under 5 years of age and for all individuals aged 65 and older. Some adults ages 19-64 years of age with certain medical conditions (examples: diabetes, COPD, asthma, smokers, chronic kidney/heart disease) may be eligible for a pneumonia vaccine to increase their immunity.
There are a two types of pneumonia vaccines; vaccination will depend on your past pneumococcal vaccination history. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about your vaccination status.
What kind of side effects to expect after vaccination for the pneumococcal virus?
Side effects after vaccination can include pain, redness, & swelling at the injection site. You may also experience muscle aches/pain, fatigue, & headache. Most side effects from the vaccination last approximately 48 hours or less.
Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. This includes patients that have had an allergic reaction after a previous shot of a pneumococcal vaccine or any severe allergies to vaccine ingredients
Will I need a prescription for this vaccine?
Ask your pharmacist; most Lewis Drug locations have an agreement with local providers that allows for individual screening & vaccination at the pharmacy that same day.
What is the cost of the vaccine?
The cost of the vaccine will depend on your insurance. Pneumococcal vaccinations are covered at no copay for those that have Medicare Part B and are eligible to receive the vaccine. Ask your pharmacist regarding your coverage
CDC Pneumonia Vaccination: What everyone should know https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/public/index.html
CDC Pneumococcal Disease Facts https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/facts.html
American Lung Association, Pneumonia https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/pneumonia
Pneumonia - Vaccine Information Statement - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/pcv.html
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