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The Vaccine Doctors Want Every Single Person Over 65 to Get ASAP


March 21, 2024 at 6:25 PM

You’ve probably gotten your flu shot, the latest COVID jab and maybe the shingles vaccine. But, there’s another shot that you should add to your health to-do list if you’re over 65: the pneumococcal vaccine.

The pneumococcal vaccine targets pneumococcal disease, a bacteria-causing infection that can lead to several different conditions, from sinusitis to meningitis. Older adults are at a high risk of serious illness and even death from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As we get older, our immune system is not as sharp as it once was,” says family physician Dr. Jesus Lizarzaburu, MD, who’s based in Yorktown, Virginia. “Therefore, we become more susceptible to many types of infections. Vaccines seem to help improve our immunity.”

Pneumococcal vaccines aren’t new. They’re safe, and everyone over 65 should get one, he adds. Adults under 65 who have chronic health conditions, like asthma, diabetes and chronic pulmonary disease, should also get vaccinated. Here’s what you should know about pneumococcal disease and the vaccine targeting it.

What Is Pneumococcal Disease Exactly?

Pneumococcal disease is caused by the bacteria streptococcal pneumonia, which can live in the respiratory systems of healthy people, explains Peter Gulick, DO, a Lansing, Michigan-based osteopathic physician specializing in internal medicine and infectious diseases. But, you can spread it to other people by sneezing, coughing, sharing objects, touching or kissing—and, it can make them sick.

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