CDC recommends two pneumonia vaccines for older adults

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines that recommend all adults age 65 and older receive a second pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13, because of limitations with the older shot, Pneumovax 23.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines that recommend all adults age 65 and older receive a second pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13, because of limitations with the older shot, Pneumovax 23.

Prevnar 13 provides protection against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is the most common cause of pneumonia in adults. S. pneumoniae also causes ear infections, sinus infections and meningitis, an infection of the membrane covering the brain.

Pneumovax 23 has been used to protect against 23 strains of pneumonia bacteria in adults since 1983. Prevnar 13 has been used to provide protection against 13 strains of pneumonia bacteria in children for more than a decade.

The new health guidelines specifically state that beginning in fall 2014, people age 65 and older should get both vaccines. This recommendation for a one-time (not annual) vaccination is based on evidence that Prevnar 13 helps reduce the risk of pneumonia and associated infections in older adults by nearly half, according to the CDC.

Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 should not be given at the same time. Adults age 65 or older who have not yet received a pneumonia vaccine should first receive a dose of Prevnar 13, followed 6 to 12 months later by a dose of Pneumovax 23. Adults who have previously received Pneumovax 23 should receive a dose of Prevnar 13 one year later.

Pneumonia is a serious lung infection affecting approximately 900,000 people in the United States each year. Of those affected, 5 to 7 percent die. Symptoms include high fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Because many older adults have compromised immune systems, getting vaccinated is the best defense against pneumonia.

If you are age 65 or older, ask your physician about the two pneumonia vaccines.

Visit a Norton Immediate Care Center or your Norton primary care physician to get the vaccine.


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