The flu and pneumonia represent the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults ages 65 or older. As we age, the need increases for vaccinations against the flu and pneumonia. In 2014, only 61 percent of adults ages 65 years and older received a flu vaccine, and only 59 percent received a pneumococcal vaccine. Flu vaccine recommendations have remained steady – everyone should get one every year – but the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has issued new pneumococcal vaccination recommendations for older adults.
Since 2010, ACIP has recommended that all persons should be vaccinated with PPSV23 (Pneumovax ®23) at age 65 to decrease the risk of contracting pneumonia. This year, ACIP has extended those recommendations to include PCV 13 (Prevnar ®13). Both of these vaccines cover 12 of the same pneumococcal serotypes. PPSV23 covers 11 additional serotypes, and PCV13 has one additional serotype not in PPSV23. So when should we get these vaccines? The guidelines are as follows:
- If you have never had any pneumococcal vaccine, get PCV13 at age 65 or older. Wait at least one year and then get PPSV23.
- If you have previously received PPSV23 at age 65 years or older, wait at least one year between and then get PCV13.
- If you have previously received PPSV23 prior to age 65 – and are now older than 65 – get PCV13, wait one year and then get PPSV23.
No matter which pneumococcal vaccine you may have taken in the past, following these new recommendations will help protect you against pneumonia. Guardian Atlanta recommends you speak with your doctor regarding specific vaccination recommendations, or contact our geriatric pharmacist consultant, Lori Newcomb, at 404-309-4958.