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Shots for Seniors: The Pneumonia Shot
Everyone needs a pneumonia shot once around age 65. People with certain chronic conditions may need it sooner. This includes people with:
 
Pneumococcal disease is a serious infection. Many people are familiar with pneumococcal pneumonia, which affects the lungs. But the bacteria that cause this form of pneumonia also can attack other parts of the body. When these bacteria invade the lining of the brain, they cause meningitis. When they enter the bloodstream, they cause bacteremia. They also can cause middle ear and sinus infections.
 
The shot is safe and can be given at the same time as the flu shot. Most people only need a single dose. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people age 65 and older to have a second dose of the pneumococcal vaccine if they received the shot more than five years ago and were younger than 65 when they were vaccinated the first time. No one should receive more than two total doses of the pneumococcal vaccine that is available now.
 
About half of the people who get the shot have minor side effects, such as temporary swelling, redness, and soreness at the place on the arm where the shot was given. A few people (less than 1 percent) have fever, muscle pain, or more serious swelling and pain on the arm.
 
Pneumococcal disease is treated with antibiotics. However, in recent years, the bacteria that cause pneumococcal disease have become more and more resistant to penicillin. This is one reason why prevention and the development of newer, more effective vaccines are so important.
 
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