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group of doctorsThe winter is moving in, and that means that cold and flu season is here. During the winter, our chances of getting sick rise. A common winter illness is pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a dangerous infection of the lungs that leads to inflammation of the organ. Pneumonia can be deadly if not treated correctly. Most people who catch pneumonia will need medical treatment.

You likely have heard that there is now a widely used pneumonia vaccine. A pneumonia shot can greatly reduce your risks of catching pneumonia. But, the pneumonia vaccine is different from a yearly flu shot. Take some time to learn about the specifics of a pneumonia vaccine.

What is the Pneumonia Vaccine?

The pneumonia vaccine is actually two different shots. There are many different types of pneumonia. So, the shots protect you against many of the different strands.

One shot protects you against 13 strands of pneumonia. This shot is commonly marketed as the PCV13 or Prevnar 13® shot.

The second shot is commonly called PPVS23 or Pneumovax®. It protects you against 23 strands of pneumonia.

The 13 strands that PCV13 covers are different from the 23 strands covered by PPVS23. Therefore, many people receive both shots.

These shots still won’t cover you against every type of pneumonia. However, they greatly reduce your risks of catching many of the common forms of the illness.

Who Needs the Shots?

Some people receive only one of the pneumonia vaccines, while others get both.

PCV13 is recommended for children under age 5, and adults over the age of 65. It is also recommended for people who have conditions that may raise their risks for pneumonia, like compromised immune systems.

People qualify for PPVS23 under different circumstances than PCV13. Experts recommend PPVS23 for adults who are over the age of 65. It is also recommended for people who are over 19 years old who have certain conditions. It is also recommended for smokers.

The CDC recommends that adults over 65 receive both doses of the vaccine. The CDC also recommends certain timelines to follow when getting the two shots.

How Long Do they Last?

Young children who have PCV13 before they are a year old generally need booster shots. Boosters complete the full course of the vaccination. Boosters also allow providers to safely administer the proper amount of vaccine over time. These time intervals vary.

Experts recommend a second dose of PPVS23 five years after the first dose. The recommendation applies to people over 65 or those with compromised immune systems. Recommendations are always changing, so check with your doctor about boosters.

How Much do they Cost?

Most insurance policies, including Medicare Part B, fully cover the cost of both vaccines. However, you may be responsible for co-pays or other charges. Check with your insurance company before getting the shots.

Millers Insurance Agency can be your point of contact for health insurance. We are happy to provide you with many helpful resources about your health insurance coverage. If you have any questions, call us today at (610) 269-4500.

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