Along with everything else that is happening recently, we are often asked about the need for a pneumonia shot.  Most people get flu shots every year, but few get the pneumonia vaccine.  Like many things in medicine, the recommendations, usually from the CDC or some other authoritative body, change from time to time.  There are two pneumonia vaccines, PCV13 and PCV23.

The agency involved in the recommendations below is the CDC, specifically, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).  Here goes, if you are 65 or older you need just one injection of PCV23, but if you have had this before you turned 65 you need a booster in 5 years.  Those 65 and older with serious underlying conditions such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism, or cigarette smoking, should get PVC13 followed by PVC23 one year later.  There are further recommendations for more complex situations involving patients over the age of 19 to age 64, or older that have malignancies, cochlear implants, or leakage of cerebrospinal fluid. I suggest if these circumstances apply to you that you discuss them with your family physician or medical specialist involved with your case.

Given the current pandemic crisis, it is important that we all get as much protection as possible.  This includes not only our influenza immunizations, but also the pneumonia vaccine if you fit into any of the categories I have listed above. Let us all try to have a safe winter and spring season.