The Right Time for a Pneumonia Shot

Pneumonia is a nasty infection of the lungs. It often inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs, causing them to fill with fluid faster than the body can expel. This can lead to flu-like symptoms that eventually make it so hard to breathe you need steroids and other breathing aids to oxygenate your body.

Like the flu shot or the recent COVID-19 vaccine, a pneumonia shot offers protection from those vulnerable to catching it. Let’s look at who should get a pneumonia shot every year and when you should get one.

Why is Pneumonia Such a Risk to the Elderly?

Pneumonia can be deadly for those 65+. Anybody with lung disease, Lung Cancer, or other respiratory issues can be rendered unable to breathe by pneumonia in a relatively brief period.

About 50,000 people a year die from pneumonia in the United States. For the elderly, this is and can be deadly. The older you get, the harder it is for your body to fight off infection, illness, and disease, making something like pneumonia even riskier for seniors if they catch it.

Fungi, viruses, and bacteria can cause pneumonia. Since it can be generated differently, doctors need to figure out the source to prescribe the right course of treatment.

For the elderly and those 65+, many risk factors increase your chances of getting pneumonia and how bad it can be:

  • Cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and COPD.
  • Other chronic illnesses, like heart disease or diabetes.
  • Weakened immune system because of chemotherapy or organ transplant.
  • Difficulty swallowing due to Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or stroke.
  • Recent viral infections, even something as simple as a cold.
  • Cigarette, tobacco, or medical marijuana use.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Hospitalization.

Any of the above can make you more vulnerable to catching pneumonia. The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk of a troubling case that could lead to hospitalization, being put on a ventilator to breathe, and potentially death.

Is a Pneumonia Shot Necessary for Seniors?

The CDC recommends anyone 65+ get a pneumonia shot annually. However, the most direct answer will come from your primary care doctor. They know your medical history and risks better than anybody. Heed their advice on whether a pneumonia shot is necessary for you.

You can’t get pneumonia from the vaccine, and less than one percent of those who get it get side effects, such as sore muscles, loss of appetite, or a mild fever.

How to Get a Pneumonia Shot

Typically, it’s advised you get pneumonia shot side-by-side with your flu shot before the start of the flu season since the flu can lead to pneumonia. However, many doctors believe seniors and children under two should get it from mid-summer to the end of summer and then their annual flu shot as fall begins.

Consult your doctor on the best time to schedule your yearly pneumonia shot. Since you can get pneumonia year-round, they may offer better timing based on your medical history.

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