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Pneumonia (Pneumococcal Polysaccharide) Vaccine 


Wellness Services will not provide pneumonia vaccines to persons under the age of 16. For persons 16-17 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must be present and will be required to sign a written consent before a pneumonia vaccine can be given. Those under the age of 16 should visit their personal health care provider to receive a pneumonia vaccine.

Why Get Vaccinated?
Pneumococcal disease is a serious disease that causes much sickness and death.  In fact, pneumococcal disease kills more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.  Anyone can get pneumococcal disease.  However, some people are at greater risk from the disease.  These include people 65 and older, the very young, and people with special health problems such as alcoholism, heart or lung disease, kidney failure, diabetes, HIV infection, or certain types of cancer.

Pneumococcal disease can lead to serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the blood (bacteremia), and the covering of the brain (meningitis).  About one out of every 20 people who get pneumococcal pneumonia die from it, as do about two people out of 10 who get bacteremia, and three people out of 10 who get meningitis.  People with the special health problems mentioned above are even more likely to die from the disease.

Drugs such as penicillin were once effective in treating these infections; but the disease has become more resistant to these drugs, making treatment of pneumococcal infections more difficult.  This makes prevention of the disease through vaccination even more important.

Who should get PPV?

  • All adults 65 years of age or older.
  • *Anyone over 2 years of age who has a long-term health problem such as:
    • heart disease
    • lung disease
    • diabetes
    • cirrhosis
    • sickle cell disease
    • alcoholism
    • leaks of cerebrospinal fluid
  • *Anyone over 2 years of age who has a disease or condition that lowers the body's resistance to infection, such as:
    • Hodgkin's disease
    • lymphoma, leukemia
    • kidney failure
    • multiple myeloma
    • nephrotic syndrome
    • HIV infection or AIDS
    • damaged spleen, or no spleen
    • organ transplant
  • *Anyone over 2 years or age who is taking any drug or treatment that lowers the body's resistance to infections, such as:
    • long-term steroids
    • radiation therapy
    • certain cancer drugs
  • Alaskan Natives and certain Native American populations

How many doses of PPV are needed?
Usually one dose of PPV is all that is needed. However, under some circumstances a second dose may be given.

  • A second dose is recommended for those people aged 65 and older who got their first dose when they were under 65, if five or more years have passed since that dose.
  • A second dose is also recommended for people who:
    • have a damaged spleen or no spleen
    • have sickle-cell disease
    • have HIV infection or AIDS
    • have cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma
    • have kidney failure
    • have nephrotic syndrome
    • have had an organ or bone marrow transplant
    • are taking medication that lowers immunity (such as chemotherapy or long-term steroids)

What are the risks from PPV?
PPV is a very safe vaccine. About half of those who get the vaccine have very mild side effects, such as redness or pain where the shot is given.  Less that one percent develop a fever, muscle aches, or more severe local reactions. Severe allergic reactions have been reported very rarely. As with any medicine, there is a very small risk that serious problems, even death, could occur after getting a vaccine.  Getting the disease is much more likely to cause serious problems than getting the vaccine.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

McKee Medical Center
2000 Boise Ave.
Loveland, CO 80538
(970) 669-4640
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