Earlier this year, recommendations for vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia were updated. Why is this important? Influenza and pneumonia were the ninth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2020, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk of getting pneumonia is higher for older adults, those who smoke and people with certain health conditions.

Pneumonia can be caused by viruses including influenza, but also by fungi or bacteria. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is pneumococcal pneumonia, and it can be a serious problem, causing an estimated 150,000 hospitalizations each year.

One of the best preventive methods is to get vaccinated against the different types of viruses and bacteria that can cause pneumonia including influenza, COVID-19 and pneumococcal.

There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines: PPSV (PPSV23) and PCV (PCV13, PCV20, PCV15). Vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of 65 and recommended earlier for those with certain health conditions. The type of shot and timeline is different depending on your age and conditions. Conveniently, you can get either of these shots at the same time as your flu or COVID-19 shot. If you think you may be eligible for a pneumococcal vaccine, visit your pharmacy to talk to your pharmacist about which option would be best for you.

Lexie Powell is an academic fellow at the Department of Pharmacotherapy at the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences based in Spokane.

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