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Pneumonia vaccines and older adults

Learn about your chances of getting sick and how to stay safe. 

October 3, 2023 | 1-minute read

Pneumonia is caused by viruses or bacteria. These viruses and bacteria can also cause infections in the lungs, blood and brain. These infections can cause people to go to the hospital.

Who should get a pneumonia vaccine? 

Adults age 65 and older should get a pneumonia vaccine. Some people may need a certain type of pneumonia vaccine recommended by their doctor while others may need to get two shots one year apart because of their vaccine history.   

The vaccine may not be recommended for some people because of health problems. Ask your doctor which vaccines you may need. 

I’m older than 65. Why do I need a pneumonia shot?

If you’re age 65 and older, you have a greater chance of getting seriously ill from pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Pneumonia can be hard to care for. Medicines like antibiotics may not help. Pneumonia vaccines can help lower your chances of getting an infection. 

What are my chances of getting a pneumonia infection?

Anyone can be infected. Your chances depend on your current health and lifestyle. Your chances may be higher if:

  • You’re age 65 and older.
  • You smoke.
  • You drink large amounts of alcohol.
  • You have diabetes, heart, liver, kidney or lung disease.
  • You’ve had your spleen removed.

The immune system helps the body fight illness. Some illnesses like HIV or cancer and some types of medicine can hold back your immune system. This also raises your chances of getting seriously ill from pneumonia. 

What are ways I can lower my chances of getting pneumonia?

There are many ways:

  • Get a pneumonia shot if your doctor recommends it for you.
  • If you smoke cigarettes, get help to quit.
  • Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Clean surfaces you touch often, such as doorknobs and kitchen counters.
  • If you have health problems like diabetes, heart disease, COPD and asthma, follow guidance from your doctor. Also, take your medicines as needed. 

Don’t wait — schedule your pneumonia shot today. Get your pneumonia shot at an Optum location near you. 

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.