By Dr. Jay Trussler
As many of you go to your doctors this fall and winter seasons, your doctor will be asking you to get the flu shot, but many of you will also need to get a pneumonia vaccine as well.
The CDC says “Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine” (a.k.a. Prevnar 13) is recommended for all babies and children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (a.k.a. Pneumovax) is recommended for all adults 65 years or older, people 2 through 64 years old who are at increased risk for disease due to certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.
The Prevnar 13 vaccination is just meant to be taken once in a lifetime, while the Pneumovax is every five years, but at least one year after the Prevnar 13 was administered. In the past, a good ole’ shot of penicillin could take care of a bad case of pneumonia, but in present times the pneumonia causing bacteria have gotten smarter and mutated and often can’t be killed by penicillin.
Your doctor can answer your specific questions regarding your pneumonia vaccine needs. Many pharmacies also offer these vaccinations; however, very few pharmacies take the time to notify a patient’s doctor of which specific vaccination was received, so we doctors have a difficult time making vaccination recommendations to patients when the patient tells us that he/she “got some kind of vaccine at the pharmacy about 2 years ago.” Basically, if your pharmacist won’t notify the doctor of your vaccination history, then you really should let your doctor give you the shot. When it comes to the flu shot, however, get that wherever is most convenient for you be it your doctor’s office, a pharmacy, work, school, etc.