The Pneumococcal vaccine may be the one you really want to commit to even if you skip the others this year.
Vaccines are a highly controversial subject. Some argue that vaccines contribute to a higher risk of autism, while others insist that they are the best way to protect yourself and your children from infection and disease. Arguments aside, it’s a well-known fact that vaccinations can help to prevent illness and disease. The Pneumococcal Vaccine is one of those vaccines you’d do well to consider.
What does it do?
The Pneumococcal Vaccine was developed to protect your body from the streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. This is a bacteria that can cause serious, potentially fatal infections in your lungs, brain, and blood system if left untreated. The bacteria can cause problems like septicemia, pneumonia, and meningitis.
Besides the fact that Pneumococcal disease (disease caused by this specific bacteria) can be very dangerous and life-threatening, the bacteria is also antibiotic-resistant. In the U.S., death from this bacteria is more common than death from all other bacteria combined. Worst of all, it’s fully preventable with the Pneumococcal Vaccine.
There are two different Pneumococcal Vaccine varieties:
- PPSV23 — This is a vaccine designed to protect adults against 23 different strains of the bacteria. PPSV stands for “pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine”, and you can find the vaccine called Pneumovax. It is made using dead bacteria, meaning it will protect you from the Pneumococcal disease WITHOUT making you sick (like some vaccines do).
- PCV13 –– This is a vaccine designed to protect toddlers and infants from Pneumococcal disease. Up until 2011, it was ONLY given to young children. However, since then, the FDA has approved it for use in adults over the age of 50, providing added protection against an additional 13 strains of the bacteria.
Do You Need a Pneumococcal Vaccine?
If you are over the age of 65, it’s recommended that you receive BOTH vaccines. This will ensure that you are protected from as many different strains of the bacteria as possible.
For adults over the age of 19, there are two options:
- PPSV23 — This vaccine is recommended for adults between the ages of 19 and 64, especially those who suffer from conditions that could weaken the immune system. Those who smoke, asthmatics, and those who suffer from kidney disease, lung disease, asplenia, and chronic heart disease should also consider this Pneumococcal Vaccine.
- PCV13 — This vaccine is recommended for adults over the age of 19 who suffer from sickle cell disease, asplenia, or cerebrospinal fluid leaks. Those who have cochlear implants should also consider it, as should those with conditions that weaken their immune system.
Be warned: if you have health problems or medical conditions that reduce your immunity or compromise your general body function, you may need to get a booster shot after 5 years. If you are over the age of 65 and received the vaccination BEFORE you reached 65, you may also need a booster shot. The booster shot is designed to enhance the effectiveness of the vaccination, ensuring that you are fully protected from the bacteria.
However, there are a few notable exceptions to this recommendation. If you are allergic to the vaccines’ ingredients, it may be best to avoid the injections. If you are currently fighting a life-threatening illness, you will need to recover before receiving the vaccine. While there is no proof that receiving these vaccines during pregnancy can affect the baby’s health, it’s better to avoid vaccination until after giving birth.
The side effects of the vaccine include:
- Muscle aches
- Swelling, redness, and pain at injection site
However, this affects less than 1% of people.