August is National Immunization Awareness Month
Exploring the Importance of the Pneumonia Vaccine in Old Bridge
While wisdom often comes with age, changes to the immune system often come with it too. During the senior years, it’s not uncommon for immunity to decrease, which increases the susceptibility to common diseases, such as pneumonia, shingles, and the flu. These diseases can potentially be very serious, leading to hospitalization and compromised health.
In order to maintain health as a senior, regular vaccinations are critical. Although it’s important to keep up with all vaccinations to help ward off illnesses, the pneumonia vaccines are particularly important in adults over the age of 65. Below is some basic information the team at Reformed Church Home wants to share with our readers.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs in one or both lungs. It’s extremely common, with over three million cases diagnosed each year. In younger, healthier adults, pneumonia can be irritating but is rarely critical; however, the elderly and those with a compromised immune system can be in danger of serious side effects, such as a pleural effusion, respiratory arrest, organ damage, or increased risk of heart attack.
The Pneumonia Vaccine
Vaccines are strongly encouraged to prevent the often-severe side effects of pneumonia. While most people refer to the pneumonia vaccine, it’s more accurate to say vaccines, as the pneumococcal vaccination exists in multiple forms. The two types of pneumonia vaccines are:
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, also known as PCV13 or Prevnar 13. The number 13 represents the thirteen different types of pneumococcal bacteria it protects against.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, also known as PPSV23 or Pneumovax 23. The number 23 represents the twenty-three different types of pneumonia-causing bacteria your body is protected against.
Each vaccine covers a different derivative of disease caused by a pneumococcus infection, including meningitis, bacteremia, and, of course, pneumonia. Vaccines are administered as a simple shot and can be handled in an outpatient setting.
Guidelines for pneumonia vaccines
Pneumonia vaccines are recommended for the following ages:
- All adults aged 65 and older
- Adults 19 and older with certain immune system disorders
Vaccination should be limited to those who have not had a negative reaction to previous doses. Those who have received PCV13 at a younger age are not encouraged to get a second dose. For adults who have had neither PCV13 of PPSV23, doses should not be administered simultaneously. Instead, you should receive PCV13 first, and then PPSV23 at least one year later.
Side effects of the pneumonia vaccine are generally minor. If present at all, they may include arm swelling or soreness.
Good Health in the Senior Years
Staying healthy is a priority for those of all ages—and this includes proper vaccinations. For seniors living in a community setting, appropriate immunization is highly recommended. Since August is National Immunization Awareness Month, here’s a reminder to get the protection necessary to help ensure good health.
Contact us to learn more about healthy living for seniors!