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Get a Shot to Prevent Pneumonia

The Basics

If you are age 65 or older, ask your doctor for a shot (vaccine) to help protect you from pneumonia (“noo-MOHN-yah”) caused by a certain kind of bacteria. This shot is called PPSV, or sometimes the pneumococcal ("noo-muh-KOK-uhl") shot.

Pneumonia is a serious illness that can sometimes lead to death, especially in older adults. The good news is that you can protect yourself from a common type of pneumonia by getting a PPSV shot. Most people will only need to get the shot once.

The PPSV shot also protects you from other infections caused by the same type of of bacteria, including:

  • Bacteremia (infection of the blood)
  • Meningitis (infections of the covering around the brain and spinal cord)

Who needs to get a PPSV shot?
If you are age 65 or older, get a PPSV shot. If you are under age 65, it's a good idea to get a PPSV shot if you smoke or have a health condition like:

  • A weakened immune system (from cancer or HIV, for example)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Asthma

Find out more about who needs the PPSV shot and when.

Are there any side effects?
The PPSV shot is very safe. Some people may have redness or pain where they get the shot.

What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be very serious, and may even cause death.

The type of pneumonia prevented by the PPSV shot is caused by a certain kind of bacteria (pneumococcal bacteria). This bacteria can spread from person to person.

Visit these websites to learn more about pneumonia:

Take Action!

Take Action!

Pneumonia is a serious illness. Don’t wait – talk to a doctor or nurse about the PPSV shot.

Call your doctor or health clinic today.
If you are age 65 or older, ask your doctor or nurse about the PPSV shot. Remember, most people will only need to get the shot once.

Some adults with certain health conditions may need a second kind of shot to help prevent pneumonia. If you have a weakened immune system (like from cancer or HIV), also ask your doctor about the PCV shot. Learn about the PCV shot.

What about cost?
The Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, covers the PPSV shot for people at high risk for pneumonia. This includes adults with certain health conditions and all adults age 65 and older.

Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get the shot at no cost to you.

For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

Take steps to stay healthy.
When you are healthy, your body is better at fighting off infections and illnesses, like pneumonia.

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