Did you know you could get a vaccine to protect against Pneumonia?
And did you know that up to 1 in 100 people will be diagnosed with Pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae every year?
This is called Pneumococcal disease.
Pneumonia is a serious illness. According to NHS Digital data between 2015-2017 pneumonia killed on average 29,500 people each year.
How long is a course: Single dose
Booster doses: Not required
How it is given: Injection in the upper arm
Side Effects: Usually mild. Expect fevers and injection site reactions like redness, swelling and tenderness which usually settle after a few days.
Special groups eg Children: This vaccine can be administered to children from 2 years upwards.
Prices from: £30 – £70 depending on the product. Read on for further information.
Pneumonia usually occurs after a prior illness,fFor example after a viral infection like influenza, which we often call the flu. Studies have shown that prior infection with a virus like influenza can increase the risk of developing pneumonia by up to 100 times.
If you are unlucky and develop pneumonia your lungs will become inflamed. This inflammation could affect both lungs, or just one, but slowly your lungs will start filling with fluid. If left untreated, pneumonia can quickly lead to severe illness or death.
Due to the severity of pneumonia, the NHS has a selection of guidelines to aid diagnosis and treatment choices. Most commonly pneumonia is treated using antibiotics and may involve a hospital admission.
Fact: Did you know that if you have suffered pneumonia before you are on average twice as likely to suffer pneumonia again compared to someone who hasn’t.
The Vaccines: There are two different vaccines available. In the UK some patients are vaccinated on the NHS against Pneumonia. These include patients who:
Most of these patients will be given the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPV) which provides moderate protection for around five years against invasive strains of Pneumonia. The level of protection gained is usually highest in those who are fit and healthy. This happens because of the way the vaccine works and it means those at greatest risk due to ill health do not produce a strong immune response.
Available in the UK there is another vaccine, one that is much newer, which is known as the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV). This vaccine protects against 13 strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae and just one dose is enough to cover you for life. PCV vaccination tends to produce better, longer-lasting results in all population groups compared to PPV.
It is important to remember that no one will ever develop 100% immunity because of vaccination. On average the NHS suggests that the Pneumonia vaccine is between 50-70% effective at preventing Pneumonia.
The pharmacist providing the service will recommend the most suitable product for you after your initial consultation. Both vaccines may be offered and if this is the case they will be done at separate appointments.
There are two different types of vaccine:
Every year up to 1 in 100 people develop pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, and this includes people who are fit and healthy. Unfortunately, some patients are at greater risk than others though, as you will see in the table below, but importantly none of the at-risk NHS patient groups will be offered protection against pneumococcal disease with Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) except infants born since 2006.
|Risk (disease/condition)||Average Increased Risk compared to Healthy Individual|
|Age 45+||Risk increases with age|
|Concurrent Viral Illness eg Influenza||100x|
|Frequent Traveller||Depends on destination. Hajj Pilgrimage in 2012 demonstrated 2x risk increase|
|Previous Pneumococcal disease||2x|
|Chronic Respiratory Illness||9.8x|
The data shown above is average data acquired from Pfizer. The risk will vary between age groups with an elderly population usually suffering higher risk than those in age groups below 65.
Pneumonia can develop on its own, or develop as a complication of a previous infection. The infection could be viral or bacterial, but frequently viral diseases like Influenza increase your risk of contracting bacterial pneumonia because your immune system is weakened. Avoiding viral illnesses can reduce your risk of Pneumococcal disease and so following simple guidance from Public Health England can help protect you and others.
Steps include washing your hands regularly, sneezing or coughing into your arm or elbow and using tissues.
Aside from hand washing and sneezing into your elbow you could also consider quitting smoking, improving your diet and exercising more frequently.
The great news is most people can have both Pneumonia vaccine, PPV and PCV. There a few people who can’t however:
For most people side effects will be mild, and very similar to other vaccines that you might have had before. Both vaccines are very safe, but side effects do occur. In adults common side effects include:
Vomiting, Diarrhoea, Headaches, Decreased appetite, Fatigue, Achy joints and muscles, Rashes, Fever along with typical injection site reactions. These include redness, swelling and tenderness.
Young children can experience slightly different side effects to adults but generally, the side effects are very similar.
If its flu season, why not get both vaccines?
It has been proven that the risk of Pneumonia infection is significantly higher after a viral illness like influenza. Protect yourself from complications like bacterial pneumonia by getting the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is usually available at all Manor Pharmacy, Peak Pharmacy, Cox & Robinson and Tims and Parker pharmacies from mid to late September every year.
You can book online and Peak Pharmacy currently offers the Pneumonia Vaccine (PCV and PPV) through 20 of our pharmacies listed below who are also specialist Travel Clinics.