Protect Yourself with Pneumococcal or Pneumonia Vaccine!

What Is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that is usually caused by bacteria or viruses and can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages.  Signs of pneumonia can include coughing, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, chills, or chest pain. Certain people are more likely to become ill with pneumonia and should be vaccinated. This includes adults 65 years of age or older and children less than 5 years of age. People up through 64 years of age who have underlying medical conditions (like diabetes or HIV/AIDS) and people 19 through 64 who smoke cigarettes or have asthma are also at increased risk for getting pneumonia.

Causes of Pneumonia
When bacteria, viruses or, rarely, fungi living in your nose, mouth, sinuses, or the environment spread to your lungs, you can develop pneumonia or other infections. You can catch the bacteria or viruses from people who are infected with them, whether they are sick or not.

Types of Pneumonia
In the U.S., the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and the most common viral causes are influenza, parainfluenza, and respiratory syncytial viruses. In children less than 1 year of age, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of pneumonia. Other common bacterial and viral causes of pneumonia in the U.S. include Staphylococcus aureus and adenovirus. Pneumocystis jirovecii, a fungus formerly known as Pneumocystis carinii, is a common cause of pneumonia in patients with AIDS.

Prevention of Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines. Following good hygiene practices can also help prevent respiratory infections. This includes washing your hands regularly, cleaning hard surfaces that are touched often (like doorknobs and countertops), and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve. You can also reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by limiting exposure to cigarette smoke and treating and preventing conditions like diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

In the U.S., there are several vaccines that prevent infection by bacteria or viruses that may cause pneumonia. These vaccines include:

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib),
Pertussis (whooping cough),
Varicella (chickenpox),
Measles; and Seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza (flu) vaccines.

Please refer to the specific information pages for the vaccines listed above for more detailed info.

Pneumococcal vaccines:

Pneumovax 23 ® prevents 23 different strains of bacteria that can cause pneumonia in children, adolescents and adults. It is recommended for everyone ages 2-65 with underlying health conditions, all adults 65 and older, and everyone ages 19-64 who smoke or have asthma. Most of these people are encouraged by their physicians to take the pneumococcal vaccine every 5-10 years. However, for healthy individuals, this vaccine provides lifetime protection from these 23 strains. As newer, more comprehensive vaccines are developed, they will likely provide additional lifetime protection for healthy people.

Prevnar® is indicated for use in infants and toddlers. The vaccine should be given to all infants younger than 24 months of age at 2, 4, and 6 months of age, followed by a booster dose at 12 through 15 months of age. Children who are unvaccinated and are 7 through 11 months of age should be given a total of 3 doses (2 months apart) and children age 12 through 23 months should be given a total of 2 doses at least two months apart. Healthy children 24 months of age or older only need to receive one dose of this vaccine.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommends that children 24 through 59 months of age at highest risk of infection, including those with certain illnesses (sickle cell anemia, HIV infection, chronic lung or heart disease) should receive 2 doses of this vaccine (8 weeks apart) if they have previously received less than 3 doses. Prevnar should be considered for all children 24 through 59 months of age with a priority for those at higher risk, which includes Alaska Natives, American Indians, or African Americans and those children who attend out-of-home day care for more than 4 hours per week. (SHOTS, etc. does not administer routine childhood vaccines such as Prevnar.)

Most of the above information was taken from: and

 For more specific information, refer to the Hepatitis A Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) found at: