As a general rule, anyone who is over the age of 65, or has a reduced immune system at all, needs to get the pneumonia immunization. Young children under the age of two and people over age 65 are those who are at most risk of the disease, and it is often fatal in these populations. Additional people who should get the pneumonia immunization include those with any existing respiratory conditions, such as heart disease, or people with conditions such as HIV or diabetes. In general, anyone with any questions or concerns regarding the pneumonia immunization and whether he or she should receive it should direct them to his physician.
The pneumonia immunization is a simple vaccine like the flu vaccine, and is often given at the same time if people request it. It is capable of protecting against numerous strains of the illness; in addition, if a person who does get the vaccine still contracts the virus, the symptoms are usually much less severe and easier to treat. This is important because certain strains of the vaccine are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, which can obviously make treating the disease much more challenging. Unlike the yearly flu vaccine, it may not be necessary to receive the pneumonia immunization more than once, but this is something that will need to be discussed with a doctor.
It is recommended that everyone over the age of 65 receive the pneumonia immunization, regardless of health otherwise. Children under two with specific conditions may also need the immunization, but this is also something that needs to be discussed with a doctor. Anyone suffering from respiratory conditions, diseases of the heart and lungs, should also elect to receive the pneumonia immunization. In addition, people who have kidney disease, conditions of the liver or spleen, or who have had their spleen removed may also need the immunization, as well as people who have had organ transplants.
Anyone whose immune system is reduced should also get the vaccine; cancer, HIV, sickle cell, and diabetes sufferers should get the vaccine. People with alcoholism should also receive the pneumonia immunization. In addition, some Native American or native Alaskan groups are also more at risk for pneumonia than others. The side effects from the vaccine are usually quite mild and may include muscle pain or a fever that goes away within the day, barring any severe allergic reactions of course.