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Adult Shots/Immunizations - Pneumococcal (Pneumonia shot) Information


Pneumococcal Information - Elderly People pictured

The Pneumococcal Vaccination

The Pneumococcal vaccination is commonly referred to as the “pneumonia shot”, but does not actually prevent a person from getting pneumonia. The vaccination protects you from getting a serious infection in your blood or brain that can cause dangerous health problems, hospitalization or death.

Pneumococcal vaccine is very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However it is not guaranteed to prevent all symptoms in all people.

Over seven million pneumococcal infections occur in the United States annually. About 40,000 Americans die annually from pneumococcal infections, a total which makes the pneumococcus the most lethal bacterium in the United States. For unclear reasons the pneumococcus causes serious illness more frequently in blacks and Native Americans.

Once a local infection develops, pneumococci can multiply and invade the blood stream, resulting in a very serious condition known as bacteremia or blood stream infection. Pneumococci which have invaded the blood stream can then spread to other locations in the body, such as the coverings of the brain and spinal cord.

Who should get the pneumococcal shot?

  • People age 65 or older
  • People who have problems with their:
    • lungs
    • heart
    • liver
    • kidneys
  • People with health problems like:
    • diabetes
    • sickle cell disease
    • alcoholism
    • HIV/AIDS

Will the shot make me sick?

The shot is very safe and does not make you sick.  Some people get a little swelling and soreness where they get the shot.  This usually goes away in a day or two.

When can I get the pneumococcal shot?
You can get the shot at any time of the year.

How many times do I have to get a shot?
Most people only need ONE shot. This protects them for a lifetime. Some people might need to get a booster shot after 5 years.

Page last updated: 09/17/12