Pneumonia vaccine

Did you know it’s estimated that more than 400,000 hospitalizations happen each year in the U.S. from pneumococcal pneumonia alone?1 For most people, pneumonia isn’t a serious illness. But for infants, people over 65 and those with health conditions or weakened immune systems, pneumonia can become serious.2

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that causes the air sacs in one or both lungs to become inflamed. These air sacs might fill up with fluid or pus and cause all sorts of problems, like coughing with phlegm, fever, chills and difficulty breathing.2 It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the air. You may be most familiar with pneumococcal pneumonia, which is the most common type of bacterial pneumonia. It’s important to know the pneumonia vaccine only helps protect against pneumococcal pneumonia.2

What are the symptoms of pneumonia?

Signs of pneumonia can vary depending on your age, overall health and the cause of infection. Common symptoms of pneumonia include things like:3

  • Cough (which might produce phlegm)
  • Fever, sweating or chills4
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain when you cough or breathe
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Who should get the pneumonia vaccine?

It’s recommended that kids younger than 2 and adults older than 65 get the pneumonia vaccine. It is also recommended that individuals with certain underlying health conditions get vaccinated to help protect themselves from invasive pneumococcal disease. Keep in mind, if you’ve had an allergic reaction to a pneumonia vaccine in the past you should not continue getting them. Be sure to talk with your doctor before scheduling a pneumonia shot and check the most up-to-date pneumonia vaccine schedules for more information.5

How effective is the pneumonia vaccine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been studies and clinical trials that show the following:5

  • Getting at least 1 shot of the pneumonia vaccine helps protect at least 8 in 10 babies from serious infection from invasive pneumococcal disease, 3 in 4 adults 65 and older against pneumococcal disease, and 9 in 20 adults 65 and older against pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • Getting 1 shot of pneumonia vaccine helps protect between 6 to 7 in 10 healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease.

What are side effects of the pneumonia vaccine?

With any medication, there’s always the risk of side effects. Be sure to do your research and talk with your doctor to understand the risks. While most people who get the pneumococcal vaccine don’t have serious problems, temporary mild side effects could include:5

  • Reactions where the shot was (redness, swelling, pain)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Feeling dizzy

You could also experience vision changes or ringing in your ears. Let your doctor know if you or your family member is taking any medicine or has recently received other vaccines before scheduling your pneumonia vaccine.

Where can I get the pneumonia vaccine?

Like most shots, you can see your doctor about getting the pneumonia vaccine. They’ll be able to answer questions, look at your health history and help you decide on next steps. If you’re a good fit for the vaccine, they can get you all set to get your pneumonia shot right there in the office.