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Nurse gives flu vaccine to senior adult patient at clinic.

Pneumonia Vaccine is Important for Immunocompromised People

By Jeremy Closter, PharmD December 16, 2019 Posted in: Pharmacy

What if a shot – or two – could save you from a serious illness, hospitalization -- or even death? Unfortunately, about 50,000 people in the U.S. die each year from pneumonia, a lung disease that’s caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Around a million people each year suffer through its symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and loss of appetite.

The Pneumonia Vaccine Can be Life-Saving

A vaccine – or two – can protect you from this common and serious illness. That’s particularly good news for people at a higher risk of getting pneumonia. They include people who are age 65 or older heart disease, who have COPD or asthma, diabetes, alcoholism, chronic liver disease, and those who smoke or are immunocompromised due to cancer.

Two pneumonia vaccines are currently available, and the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on which one to get depends on your age and risk factors.

Age Guidelines and Conditions that Affect the Immune System

You will want to talk to your doctor about the specific vaccines, but in general if you are age 65 or older and have not received a previous vaccine or if you’re unsure whether you have gotten one – it will likely be recommended that you get yearly pneumonia vaccinations.

If you are under the age of 65, and have a condition that increases your risk of getting pneumonia, you will want to get a high-dose vaccine every five to 10 years. Some immunocompromising conditions include sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease, HIV, cancer, organ transplants, and others.

Conditions which increase Pneumonia risk:

Advice for All Ages

Regardless of your age or risk, you can take some simple steps to help prevent pneumonia. These include:

  • Get a flu shot every year. Getting the flu increases your risk of catching this disease.
  • Wash your hands often and practice good hygiene.
  • Stay healthy and manage diseases which put you at higher risk (COPD, asthma, heart disease, diabetes).
  • Quit smoking.

If you experience symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain – seek medical care as soon as possible and follow your health care provider’s treatment recommendations.

If you have more questions, reach out to your Primary Care Provider or a CHI Health Pharmacist!


“Pneumonia Can Be Prevented-Vaccines Can Help.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Oct. 2018,  Accessed November 1st.

“Pneumonia Treatment and Recovery.” American Lung Association, 26 June 2019, Accessed November 1st.

Musher, Daniel. “Pneumococcal Vaccination in Adults.” UpToDate, 2019,

Jeremy Closter, PharmD

Jeremy Closter, PharmD is the supervisor at the CHI Health retail pharmacy located at 161st and Maple.  He enjoys being a pharmacist and loves the daily interactions with patients.  In his free time, he is an avid sports fan and loves watching the Creighton Bluejays.

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