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Life can be unpredictable. Luckily, our bodies are designed to be resilient and withstand whatever life throws at us. However, for people with chronic disease or immunodeficiency, this gets a lot harder to do. Infections such as pneumonia become more common and are more difficult to fight off. The pneumonia vaccine for chronic disease and the immunocompromised offers much needed protection. And once protected, you can spend more time enjoying life with your loved ones instead of worrying about getting sick.
All vaccines used today are safe, effective, and can improve our quality of life for years to come. While there are no specific vaccines available to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, COPD, and asthma, there are vaccines available to reduce the risk of infection and serious complications¹.
Although many people call it the pneumonia vaccine, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine offers more than just protection against pneumonia. With one dose, your chances of getting diseases such as pneumonia, otitis media, and meningitis greatly decrease. In turn, this makes it less likely for you to pass on an infection to your friends, family, and colleagues.
Normally, a healthy immune system acts as an invisible shield against invaders that cause infections. Unfortunately, in cases of immunodeficiency or weakened immunity, the body’s natural defenses are easily overwhelmed.
Immunocompromised individuals often include people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or those taking immunosuppressants. Those who have undergone an organ transplant or have removed their spleen are also part of this group. Additionally, infants and adults over 65 years old are typically more susceptible to pneumococcal infections.
Can these groups of people get the pneumonia vaccine? The answer is a resounding YES. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pneumonia vaccine is recommended for children and adults who are unvaccinated and have any of the following conditions2, 3:
For those who need to undergo surgery to remove their spleen (splenectomy) or get a cochlear implant, it is important to receive the vaccine before the operation. In order to produce enough antibodies needed to prevent pneumococcal infections, it is ideal to get the pneumonia vaccine at least 2 weeks prior¹. Because influenza can increase the risk and severity of pneumococcal infections and vice versa, both the pneumonia vaccine and flu shot can be given during the same visit1, 4.
Individuals with chronic diseases can and should be vaccinated against pneumococcal infections. This is because chronic diseases such as diabetes can impair immune system response⁵. This means a higher risk of infection leading to hospitalizations, severe symptoms, and slower recovery.
Aside from chronic diseases, excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol can also increase the risk of pneumococcal infection. For active smokers and heavy drinkers, it is recommended to get vaccinated even without the presence of chronic diseases1, 3.
Because chronic diseases are often lifelong conditions, vaccines are cost-effective because they provide immunity for many years with just one dose⁶. In addition to getting vaccinated with the pneumonia vaccine, consider getting your annual flu shot as well as any booster shots for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Td/Tdap)⁷. Talk to your doctor about your vaccination history and status during your next appointment.
Yes, getting the pneumonia vaccine for chronic disease or immunocompromised individuals is safe. In fact, getting vaccinated should be a priority for these groups of people.
The pneumonia vaccine can prevent or reduce the severity of pneumococcal infections with just one jab. However, the vaccine works best when combined with proper intake of maintenance medications and a healthy lifestyle.
In addition, consider getting your entire family vaccinated so that, together, you can stay healthy and protected.
Learn more about pneumonia here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
1 Ask the Experts: Pneumococcal Vaccines (PCV13 and PPSV23) https://www.immunize.org/askexperts/experts_pneumococcal_vaccines.asp Accessed May 4, 2021
2 Pneumococcal Vaccination: Who and When to Vaccinate https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/hcp/who-when-to-vaccinate.html Accessed May 4, 2021
3 Pneumococcal Disease: Risk Factors and Transmission https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/risk-transmission.html Accessed May 4, 2021
4 Prevnar 13 Package Insert https://www.fda.gov/files/vaccines/published/Package-Insert-Prevnar-13.pdf Accessed May 4, 2021
5 Flu and Pneumonia Shots www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/flu-and-pneumonia-shots Accessed May 4, 2021
6 The Economic Value of Vaccination: Why Prevention is Wealth https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4802700/ Accessed May 4, 2021
7 Adult Immunization Schedule (AAFP) https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/patient_care/immunizations/adult-immunization-schedule.pdf Accessed May 4, 2021