U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Get the Pneumonia Shots

The Basics

If you are age 65 or older, ask your doctor for shots (vaccines) to help protect you from pneumonia (“noo-MOHN-yah”). Younger people with certain health conditions also need these shots.

What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause a high fever, cough, and trouble breathing. It 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 the pneumonia shots.

Visit these websites to learn more:

Which shots protect me from pneumonia?
You need to get 2 shots – called pneumococcal ("noo-muh-KOK-uhl") shots – to prevent pneumonia caused by certain bacteria.

  • The first shot is called PCV13.
  • The second shot is called PPSV23, and you'll need to get it 6 to 12 months after you get the first shot.

Most people only need to get each of these shots once.

Who needs to get the pneumonia shots?
If you are age 65 or older, get the pneumonia shots.

If you are younger than age 65, it's a good idea to get these shots if you:

  • Have a weakened immune system (from cancer or HIV, for example)
  • Have a health condition like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma
  • Smoke

Find out more about the pneumonia shots.

Why do I need to get shots to prevent pneumonia?
Pneumonia can be very serious, and may even cause death. It's especially dangerous for older adults.

The type of pneumonia prevented by the pneumonia shots is caused by certain bacteria (germs) called pneumococcal bacteria. These bacteria can spread from person to person.

The pneumonia shots also protect you from other infections caused by the same bacteria, including:

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

Do the shots have any side effects?
The pneumonia shots are very safe. Some people may have redness or pain where they get the shots.

Take Action!

Take Action!

Pneumonia is a serious illness. Don’t wait – ask your doctor or nurse about the pneumonia shots today.

Call your doctor or health clinic today.
If you are age 65 or older, ask your doctor or nurse for the pneumonia shots. Remember, most people only need to get each of these shots once.

What about cost?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover pneumonia shots for people at high risk of 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 pneumonia shots 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, including pneumonia.

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