Pneumococcal infections in adults 65 years of age and older can be serious, even deadly. Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can present as several types of illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, pneumococcal meningitis, and an infection of the blood.
Pneumococcal disease is spread through coughing, sneezing, and close contact with an infected person.
Symptoms of pneumococcal disease (depending on the part of the body infected) can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Stiff neck
- Confusion and disorientation
- Sensitivity to light
In severe cases, pneumococcal disease can result in:
- Hearing loss
- Brain damage
What is recommended
The best way to help prevent pneumococcal disease is by getting vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 2 pneumococcal vaccines for all eligible adults 65 years of age and older. It is also recommended that adults 19 years of age or older with certain health conditions or risk factors get this vaccination. Discuss any questions you may have with your health care provider.
2 vaccines to help protect against pneumococcal disease
- PCV13 helps protect against 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria, including pneumonia.
- PPSV23 helps protect against 23 strains of pneumoccoccal bacteria.
- Both vaccines provide protection against illnesses like meningitis and bacteremia.
For persons 65 years of age or older who have not received pneumococcal vaccine previously, CDC recommends PCV13 be given first, followed by a dose of PPSV23 ≥ 1 year later. These 2 vaccines should not be given at the same time.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash, often with blisters. This severe pain can continue even after the rash has cleared. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Only someone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, because the chickenpox virus stays in your body and can cause shingles later in life.
Symptoms of shingles include:
- A painful rash on 1 side of the body or face (heals within 2 to 4 weeks)
- Upset stomach
What is recommended
To help protect yourself from shingles, the CDC recommends 2 doses of zoster vaccine, the shingles vaccine for healthy adults 50 years of age and older.
Even people who have already had shingles should be vaccinated to help prevent getting it again.
Schedule your pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations today.
To find out more about the pneumococcal and shingles vaccines, talk with your health care provider.