Most people think of Pneumovax as the classic pneumonia vaccine.
Pneumovax is given to high-risk children who are at least two years old, including children with heart problems, lung problems (excluding asthma), sickle cell disease, diabetes, cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid leaks. Children undergoing any treatment or who have a disease or condition that impairs their immune system should also receive Pneumovax.
Some adults should get Pneumovax too, including adults between the ages of 19 and 64 years with asthma, who should get a single dose of Pneumovax. All adults over age 65 should also get the Pneumovax vaccine, including a second dose five years after their first shot.
In addition to Pneumovax, other pneumonia vaccines that can protect kids from bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia, and which are a part of the routine childhood immunization schedule, include:
- Prevnar 13 - another type of Pneumococcal vaccine to protect kids against Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria
- Hib - Haemophilus influenzae type b
- DTaP - protects against pertussis (whooping cough), in addition to diphtheria and tetanus
- Varivax - pneumonia can be a serious complication of varicella (chickenpox)
- MMR - measles pneumonia is one of the more serious complications of this viral infection
- Seasonal flu vaccine - in addition to classic flu symptoms, a seasonal flu vaccine can help to prevent pneumonia that is caused by the flu virus
Unfortunately, we don't have pneumonia vaccines yet for some other common causes of pneumonia, such as parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Staphylococcus aureus, or adenovirus.
CDC. Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: Pneumococcal Vaccination. Accessed November 2010.
CDC. Pneumonia Can Be Prevented - Vaccines Can Help. Accessed November 2010.