With winter in full swing, you may be thinking about protecting yourself from diseases like pneumonia. While two pneumonia vaccines are currently available that protect against 36 strains of the disease, most healthy adults don’t need them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends both pneumonia vaccines for the following people:
- All adults over the age of 65; and people between the ages of 2 and 64 who have certain health conditions, such as asthma or heart disease
- Adults between 19 and 64 who are smokers
- Any adult under 65 with a weakened immune system, due to smoking or diabetes or another condition
The vaccine is particularly effective for people over the age of 65 because they generally will have weaker immune systems and will be more susceptible to diseases like pneumonia. In fact, according to the CDC, pneumonia kills an average of 18,000 people over the age of 65 every year. For healthy adults, the vaccine is not as necessary because not only are they less likely to contract the disease due to stronger immune systems, but they are also better equipped to fight off the disease if they do become infected with it.
If you fall into one of the categories recommended for the pneumonia vaccines above, ask your doctor about receiving the vaccines. And if you’re particularly worried about pneumonia this winter, be careful around people who are sick, and make sure to wash your hands as much as possible. Pneumonia spreads through direct contact, so avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes to keep illness at bay.