Adult Vaccination Including the Pneumococcal Pneumonia Vaccine

Dr. Daniel Ngui, BSc.(P.T), MD, CFPC, FCFP, Family Physician, talks about the importance of adult vaccination, including the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine.

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Dr. Daniel Ngui, BSc.(P.T), MD, CFPC, FCFP, Family Physician, talks about the importance of adult vaccination, including the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Daniel Ngui, BSc.(P.T), MD, CFPC, FCFP, Family Physician

Duration: 4 minutes, 4 seconds

Immunization through all stages of life is very important, but adult immunization in particular is something of interest. Adult immunization rates are actually under-immunized and under-utilized, so it’s important to discuss the value of adult immunization.

Not all infectious diseases have been eradicated. In fact, we think that because of the emergence of antibiotic resistance, treating simple conditions such as pneumonia is much harder as our antibiotics don’t work. Some vaccines don’t last a lifetime, and so for example a tetanus shot needs to be repeated every 10 years.

As well, patients getting immunized as adults can help those at highest risk. Those who are young, those who are elderly and those who are immunocompromised can get infections. And if adults get immunized when they’re healthy, it can help with herd immunity or reduce the risk to transmit this conditions to others.

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a bacterial infection, and very similarly to a cough, or a cold or a flu, this type of infection can be spread via the air. Airborne droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, or if there’s secretions that someone comes into contact to, these are the methods in which you can acquire a pneumococcal infection.

When you have a pneumococcal infection, what we’re worried about is invasive pneumococcal disease. That means when the infection goes into your bloodstream and causes a bacteremia or bloodborne infection. It can also enter into our nervous system and we can have meningitis. And finally, what we also commonly know is that pneumococcal infections can cause bad pneumonia.

Having invasive pneumococcal disease is actually a very dangerous situation. One in 14 Canadians could die if they have an infection. In other words, the case fatality rate is between 5 to 7 percent once you have invasive pneumococcal disease.

Who should get immunized? Well the National Advisory Committee on Immunization have come up with a list, or some categories, of who should be thinking about adult immunization with pneumococcal vaccination.

So there are some categories, such as anyone over age 65. Perhaps you can also be under 65, and you can live in a long-term care facility. If you’re immunocompromised, or you have special conditions which require immunization against pneumococcal infections.

Some of the immunocompromised conditions can include things like asplenia, or not having a spleen, HIV infections, malignant neoplasms including leukemia and lymphoma, or those with nephrotic syndrome, diabetes, chronic lung disease such as asthma or COPD. People who struggle with alcohol misuse disorder, or alcoholism, or those who are homeless, or those who live in institutions.

There are two vaccines available: one against 13 strains and one against 23 strains, and it’s important to know that there’s differences in coverage and timing. For example, if you get the vaccine against 13 strains of pneumonia first, you can actually get the second vaccine for Pneumo 23 after 8 weeks, however, if the situation was reversed and you happen to have the vaccine for 23 strains first, you might actually have to wait one year before you could have the vaccine for pneumococcal infection against 13 strains.

As a physician/primary care provider it’s really important that our role is to make our patients aware of the important vaccines that are available, and to keep everyone’s vaccination state up to date. Together, as patients and physicians or primary care providers it’s important to keep everyone healthy and healthy into the future.

Presenter: Dr. Daniel Ngui, Family Doctor, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Family Doctor

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.