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Ask the St. Elizabeth Expert: Who should get a Pneumococcal Vaccine?

Who should get a Pneumococcal Vaccine? (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - It's not just a flu shot that may keep you from getting sick this season. There’s another infection that you can also prevent with a simple shot.

Family medicine experts at Saint Elizabeth Healthcare say the vaccine that protects against pneumonia may also be recommended for many people this year.

‘Tis the season for respiratory infections, which tend to hit as the area swings into fall season.

There are some things many people love about fall and some things many people don't.

As everyone moves into the season of sickness, Dr. Robert Tracy says there's a few things you need to know about what's commonly called the “pneumonia shot.”

It's actually the “pneumococcal vaccine” because it prevents more than just pneumonia.

“There are two different pneumonia vaccines. There's “Prevnar 13” and then there's “Pneumovax” or “Pneumococcal 23” and some people need one of those. Some people need both of those,” said Dr. Tracy.

Dr. Tracy helped design a flow chart to clarify type and dosing for patients. It is based on guidelines for adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He points out that the guidelines can be confusing, so you need to talk to your own health care provider, but usually it is separated by age and some pre-existing conditions.

“If they over 65 and they haven't got it, they need it. The second thing is, if they are between 19 and 64, I will look at their chronic illnesses,” said Dr. Tracy.

Those chronic illnesses include everything from kidney disease or dialysis to diabetes.

Lifestyle habits such as smoking and alcohol use are also considered. That's because habits can put you at risk for certain viral infections.

If you get one when you have not had the vaccine, it can then progress into something like pneumonia, according to Dr. Tracy.

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