'Get Your Shots' Is Not Just a Message for Kids
In recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on preventing serious illnesses. From annual physicals to a focus on healthy diet and regular exercise, the goal is to help people live healthier and more productive lives.
One key way to help protect people from certain illnesses is through vaccines. Children receive vaccines to help prevent certain diseases, including chickenpox, the measles, mumps, and pneumococcal disease, among others. But as we get older, many of us don’t make good health a priority. We often focus our attention on building a career or raising a family, while putting off preventive care.
However, getting vaccinated is important for adults just as it is for children. By not taking this simple step, many older people may be putting themselves at risk for serious, sometimes deadly diseases that could be prevented with a vaccine.
A serious vaccine-preventable illness is pneumonia, a life-threatening respiratory infection and a leading cause of death around the world. It is characterized by inflammation of the lungs that causes air sacs in the lungs to fill with fluid or pus, which can lead to a cough, fever, chills and difficulty breathing, among other symptoms. One of the most common causes of pneumonia is a bacterium called S. pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, that can invade the lungs.
Many of us are aware of the importance of eating right and staying active, but healthy aging is a lifelong practice of preventive health behaviors, including screening and vaccination. Our ability to fight infection declines as we age, which may leave us at increased risk for serious, yet vaccine-preventable diseases. This is why adults should make vaccination a priority as part of their efforts to age healthily and help prevent infections like pneumonia.
To help protect yourself and others against pneumonia, people should be aware of some steps:
- Wash your hands regularly. Good hygiene can help protect you from catching infections
- Take care of other health issues. If you have diabetes or another condition, then make sure you are doing everything you can to manage your illness
- Protect others. Make sure you sneeze or cough into a tissue or your sleeve to help prevent the people around you from catching your cold
- For adults 50 and older, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated. One vaccine-preventable illness is called pneumococcal pneumonia. If you are aged 50 or older, then a vaccine called Prevnar 13® (pneumococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine [13-valent, adsorbed]), is available to help protect against pneumococcal pneumonia – caused by 13 strains of pneumococcal bacteria contained in the vaccine.
U.S. Indication for Prevnar 13
- Prevnar 13 is a vaccine approved for adults 50 years of age and older for the prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive disease caused by 13 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains (1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F, and 23F). This indication is based upon immune responses to the vaccine
- For children 6 weeks through 17 years of age, Prevnar 13 is approved for the prevention of invasive disease caused by the 13 vaccine strains, and for children 6 weeks through 5 years for the prevention of otitis media caused by 7 of the 13 strains
- Prevnar 13 is not 100% effective and will only help protect against the 13 strains included in the vaccine
- Effectiveness when given less than 5 years after a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is not known
Important Safety Information
- Prevnar 13 should not be given to anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of Prevnar 13 or any diphtheria toxoid–containing vaccine
- Children and adults with weakened immune systems (e.g., HIV infection, leukemia) may have a reduced immune response
- A temporary pause of breathing following vaccination has been observed in some infants born prematurely
- The most commonly reported serious adverse events in infants and toddlers were bronchiolitis (an infection of the lungs) (0.9%), gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and small intestine) (0.9%), and pneumonia (0.9%)
- In children 6 weeks through 17 years, the most common side effects were tenderness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, irritability, decreased appetite, decreased or increased sleep, and fever. Most commonly reported side effects in children 5 years through 17 years also included hives
- In adults, immune responses to Prevnar 13 were reduced when given with injected seasonal flu vaccine
- In adults, the common side effects were pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, limitation of arm movement, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, decreased appetite, chills, or rash
- Ask your health care provider about the risks and benefits of Prevnar 13. Only a health care provider can decide if Prevnar 13 is right for you or your child
For the full prescribing information for Prevnar 13, please click here http://www.pfizer.com/products/#prevnar13.