What Is Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is caused by a specific type of bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Its most common in children, but can also cause significant complications in older adults or people with chronic conditions.
The pneumococcal bacterium is contagious, which means that it can be passed from one person to another. This typically happens through direct contact with respiratory secretions like saliva or mucus.
Developing a pneumococcal infection can lead to a variety of conditions, some of which can be life threatening. Conditions caused by pneumococcal infections include:
Vaccination against a pneumococcal infection helps prevent you or your child from becoming sick from pneumococcal diseases. It also aids in preventing these diseases from spreading within your community.
Vaccination cant always prevent all cases of pneumococcal disease. Nevertheless, according to the , even just 1 dose can help protect against a variety of pneumococcal infections.
There are two vaccines available for pneumococcal disease:
Who Needs A Pneumococcal Vaccination
The pneumococcal vaccine is available in Scotland for all people aged 65 years and over.
It may also be available if you’re under 65 and fall under one of the following risk groups, or have one of the following serious medical conditions:
- problems with the spleen, either because the spleen has been removed or doesn’t work properly
- chronic respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , chronic bronchitis, and emphysema
- serious heart conditions
How Do I Know If I Have Pneumonia
Depending on age and overall health before becoming infected, pneumonia symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Pneumonia symptoms are often similar to cold or flu symptoms but they last much longer.
You may have pneumonia if you have the following symptoms:
- Chest pain when you breathe or cough
- Fever with sweating and shaking chills
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Other Types Of Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumonia vaccines protect against pneumococcal infections in other parts of the body. These infections include:
What is it: An infection in the middle part of the ear.
Symptoms: Fever, ear pain, and decreased hearing
Who gets it: In the U.S., over 5 million children get it each year. Pneumococcus is a common cause of ear infections. It is found in up to 30% of samples of middle ear fluid.
What is it: A sinus infection, which is often first caused by a virus. Later, a bacterial infection can set in, causing worsening or ongoing symptoms.
Symptoms: Pain and pressure around the eyes and nose, fever, drainage, and congestion
Who gets it: Sinus infections are more common in adults than in children. Pneumococcus is a common cause and may contribute to up to 35% of sinus infections.
What is it: An infection of the leptomeninges, or the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be life-threatening, so getting immediate treatment is important.
Symptoms: Fever, confusion, headache, and neck stiffness
Who gets it: Pneumococcal meningitis usually occurs in very young children and older adults. In the U.S., pneumococcus is the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children under age 5.
These infections can also be caused by other bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Pneumococcus, the pneumococcal vaccines, is only one cause.
When To Get The Vaccine
Thereâs no such thing as pneumonia season, like flu season. If you and your doctor decide that you need to have a pneumonia vaccine, you can get it done at any time of the year. If itâs flu season, you can even get a pneumonia vaccine at the same time that you get a flu vaccine, as long as you receive each shot in a different arm.
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Who Should Not Get These Vaccines
Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Read the guidelines below specific to pneumococcal vaccines and ask your or your childs doctor for more information.
Children younger than 2 years old should not get PPSV23. In addition, tell the person who is giving you or your child a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if:
You or your child have had a life-threatening allergic reaction or have a severe allergy.
- Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any of the following should not get PCV13:
- A shot of this vaccine
- An earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine called PCV7
- Any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid
You or your child are not feeling well.
- People who have a mild illness, such as a cold, can probably get vaccinated. People who have a more serious illness should probably wait until they recover. Your or your childs doctor can advise you.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- When should I make an appointment to get each type of pneumococcal vaccine?
- Should I still get the vaccines if Ive recently had pneumonia?
- Should I wait to turn 65 before I get each dose of pneumococcal vaccines?
- If I have a negative reaction to one type of pneumococcal vaccine, am I likely to have that same reaction to the other?
Funding was provided for these pneumococcal resources through an unrestricted grant from Pfizer Independent Grant for Learning and Change .
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Who Should Get Immunised Against Pneumococcal Disease
Anyone who wants to protect themselves against pneumococcal disease can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
Pneumococcal immunisation is recommended for:
- infants and children aged under 5 years
- non-Indigenous adults aged 70 years and over without medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged under 5 years living in Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 50 years and over without medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- infants under 12 months diagnosed with certain medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
- people over 12 months with certain medical risk conditions for pneumococcal disease
There are two types of pneumococcal vaccine provided free under the National Immunisation Program for different age groups and circumstances:
Refer to the NIP schedule for vaccine dosage information. Your doctor or vaccination provider will advise if you or your child have a specified medical risk condition.
Refer to the pneumococcal recommendations in the Australian Immunisation Handbook for more information.
Who Should Get The Vaccine
People over age 65. As you age, your immune system doesnât work as well as it once did. Youâre more likely to have trouble fighting off a pneumonia infection. All adults over age 65 should get the vaccine.
Those with weakened immune systems. Many diseases can cause your immune system to weaken, so itâs less able to fight off bugs like pneumonia.
If you have heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, asthma, or COPD , youâre more likely to have a weakened immune system, which makes you more likely to get pneumonia.
The same goes for people who receive chemotherapy, people who have had organ transplants, and people with HIV or AIDS.
People who smoke. If youâve smoked for a long time, you could have damage to the small hairs that line the insides of your lungs and help filter out germs. When theyâre damaged, they arenât as good at stopping those bad germs.
Heavy drinkers. If you drink too much alcohol, you may have a weakened immune system. Your white blood cells donât work as well as they do for people with a healthy immune system.
People getting over surgery or a severe illness. If you were in the hospital ICU and needed help breathing with a ventilator, youâre at risk of getting pneumonia. The same is true if youâve just had major surgery or if youâre healing from a serious injury. When your immune system is weak because of illness or injury or because itâs helping you get better from surgery, you canât fight off germs as well as you normally can.
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Who Can Get A Pneumonia Vaccination
We can provide pneumonia vaccinations to people aged two and above in our community pharmacies. Babies also get the pneumonia vaccine as part of the childhood vaccination programme. Find out more about the childhood vaccination programme on the NHS website.
Under 18s will need an adult to book their appointment for them and a legal guardian to attend the appointment with them.
We’ll ask you some medical screening questions during the online booking process to check if the pneumonia vaccine is suitable. If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine before, speak to your GP before booking an appointment.
You should reschedule your vaccination appointment if you’re unwell on the day, for example if you have a high temperature.
What Are The Side Effects
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get pneumococcal disease.
Many people have no side effects from the vaccines. For those that do, side effects are usually mild and last 1 to 2 days . Serious side effects are very rare.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is a very rare possibility, between one in 100,000 and one in a million, of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes injection of epinephrine and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your immunizing health care provider.
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What Is The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The pneumococcal vaccine is an injection given to protect you from pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease develops from an infection caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The infection may cause pneumonia or an ear infection. Pneumococcal disease is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The vaccine comes in 2 forms, called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine .
People With Health Problems And The Pneumococcal Vaccine
The PPV vaccine is available on the NHS for children and adults aged from 2 to 64 years old who are at a higher risk of developing a pneumococcal infection than the general population.
This is generally the same people who are eligible for annual flu vaccination.
You’re considered to be at a higher risk of a pneumococcal infection if you have:
- a suppressed immune system caused by a health condition, such as HIV
- a suppressed immune system caused by medicines, such as chemotherapy or steroid tablets
- a cochlear implant Action on Hearing Loss has more information about cochlear implants
- had a leak of cerebrospinal fluid this could be the result of an accident or surgery
Adults and children who are severely immunocompromised usually have a single dose of PCV followed by PPV.
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What Is The Pneumonia Vaccine Exactly
The pneumonia vaccine helps prevent pneumococcal disease, which is any kind of illness caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. That includes pneumonia and meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . There are actually two types of pneumococcal vaccines in the US:
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, known as PCV13
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, known as PPSV23
PCV13 protects against 13 types of bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease, the CDC says, and specifically works against the most serious types of pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia. PPSV23 protects against 23 types of bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease and helps prevent infections like meningitis and bacteremia.
The pneumococcal vaccines can be lifesaving. Pneumococcal pneumonia kills about one in 20 older adults who get it, according to the CDC. The vaccines offer a lot of protection. PCV13 can protect three in four adults ages 65 and up against invasive pneumococcal disease and nine in 20 adults ages 65 and older against pneumococcal pneumonia, per CDC data. One shot of PPSV23 protects up to 17 in 20 healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease.
How Do We Know The Vaccine Is Safe
All medicines are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency . The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they’re in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
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Do I Need To Pay For Pneumococcal Immunisation
Vaccines covered by the National Immunisation Program are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.
Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.
If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.
What Else Do I Need To Know Before Booking An Appointment
Only one vaccination is needed for long-lasting protection against pneumococcal pneumonia.
The vaccination can be given at any time of the year and can be given at the same time as other vaccinations, such as the flu jab. Our pharmacist will vaccinate into your upper arm so its best to wear a short-sleeved top to your appointment.
This service isnt suitable for anyone whos:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Currently having chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- Had an allergic reaction to any injections or vaccinations in the past
- Had a pneumonia vaccination in the last 12 months
This isnt a complete list and suitability will be checked before the vaccination is administered.
If you have a high temperature on the day of your appointment or you have any symptoms of COVID-19, your appointment will need to be rearranged.
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Who Should Not Get Vaccinated Or Should Wait
- Anyone who has had a lifeâthreatening allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine Prevnar 7 or any vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid: CDC.gov/Vaccines/VPD/Pneumo/Public/Index.html
- Anyone who is moderately or severely ill when the shot is scheduled should wait until feeling better
- For information regarding additional warnings and precautions, please visit: CDC.gov/Vaccines/VPD/Pneumo/HCP/Recommendations.html#Contraindications-Precautions
Is Pneumonia Dangerous
Pneumonia can be a serious illness with long-term effects, and can lead to other serious health conditions like meningitis as well as a form of blood poisoning called septicaemia. In some groups of people, such as people over 65, babies and those with long-term health conditions, pneumonia can be dangerous and even fatal.
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When To See A Doctor
A person who is over 65 years of age should talk to their doctor about which pneumonia vaccine may be best for them. The doctor can help determine whether they should get the vaccination, which vaccination to get, and when to get it.
Parents and caregivers of young children should talk to a pediatrician about the schedule for the pneumonia vaccination. The pediatrician can also address any questions or concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccination.
A person does not need to see a doctor for mild reactions to the vaccine, such as tenderness at the injection site, fever, or fatigue.
However, if a person experiences any life threatening side effects, they should seek emergency help immediately.
Signs and symptoms of allergic reactions in children may include:
- respiratory distress, such as wheezing
Who Should Not Get The Pneumococcal Vaccine Or Should Wait To Get It
- You should not get the vaccine if you have had an allergic reaction to it or to a vaccine for diphtheria, such as DTaP, Tdap, or Td. Tell your healthcare provider if you had an allergic reaction to any other vaccine. Also tell your provider if you have any severe allergies.
- You should wait to get the vaccine if you are sick or have a fever.
- You may need to wait to get the vaccine if you are a pregnant woman. If possible, get the vaccine before you become pregnant. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of this vaccine. Your provider can tell you if you are at high risk for pneumococcal infection and when to get the vaccine if you are already pregnant.
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What Are The Side Effects Of The Pneumonia Vaccines
PCV13 and PPSV23 can both cause mild side effects. Both pneumococcal vaccines are given in the arm and are injected into muscle. Children and adults may experience arm soreness, swelling, or redness where the shot was injected. Other side effects that may occur in adults include:
PCV13 should not be given to children at the same time as the annual flu shot, because of an increased risk of . These seizures are caused by a high fever and occur in up to 5% of children under 5. They can be scary, but dont cause any long-term health problems.
The good news is that the side effects will resolve on their own within a few days.