Pneumococcus: Vaccination Works

Pneumococcus is a bacterium that can cause a wide variety of infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis, or sepsis. Fortunately, a vaccine exists, and your pharmacist can assess if it's suitable for you and even administer it—no prescription from your doctor required.

Fighting or Avoiding Symptoms?

Winter and spring are the periods when the frequency of pneumococcal infections is highest. Among the symptoms are high fever, severe chills, severe cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

These infections are usually treated with antibiotics, but prevention is better than suffering the consequences (and possible complications...). In this regard, vaccination is the best option.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

Pneumococcal infection can affect anyone. The vaccine is offered to the entire population, but it is particularly recommended for two segments for whom it is free: children aged 2 months to 5 years and adults aged 65 and over.

Between these two age groups, other categories of people are also offered the vaccine at no cost if they have at least one of the following medical conditions:

  • heart disease;
  • lung disease;
  • asthma requiring regular medical follow-up (children aged 5 to 17 and adults aged 50 and over);
  • kidney disease;
  • diabetes;
  • absent or deficient spleen;
  • liver diseases;
  • weakened immune system (e.g., due to cancer, HIV infection).

Nevertheless, 20% of healthy individuals are still carriers of the bacterium, which is transmitted through contact with nasal or throat secretions. Thus, all individuals over 18 years of age can be vaccinated to reduce their risk of contracting a pneumococcal infection.

Two types of vaccines exist (conjugate inactivated - Pneu-C and polysaccharide - Pneu-P); your pharmacist has all the necessary skills to guide you properly.

Some advice following the vaccination

  • Pain? Redness? Swelling? Apply a cold, damp compress to the injection site;
  • If needed, use a fever or headache medication;
  • Listen to your body. If symptoms persist after 48 hours or worsen instead of improving—or if your reactions seem severe or unusual, consult a healthcare professional.

Note that the availability of the vaccine may vary from one pharmacy to another.

Other vaccines are also offered in pharmacies:

  • Influenza vaccination
  • COVID-19 vaccination

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