Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. It can result in mild to severe illness in people of all ages. It can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Pneumonia is common in young children, but older adults are at greater risk for serious infection and death. In the United States about 1 million people annually seek hospital care due to pneumonia, and there are about 50,000 deaths from the infection, the majority being adults. Most of the deaths could be prevented with vaccines and appropriate antibiotic or antiviral treatment. Common signs of pneumonia include cough, fever and difficulty breathing. Certain people are more likely to become ill with pneumonia: adults 65 and older, children younger than 5 years old, people with underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and those who smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pneumonia vaccinations for all babies and children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years and older, and people between ages 2 and 64 who have underlying medical conditions.
Two types of pneumonia vaccine are available. Prevnar 13 is appropriate for all three categories. Pneumovax 23 is appropriate for adults 65 and older, people ages 2 to 64 with certain medical conditions and adults who smoke. Both vaccines are readily available at the RVNA Center for Exceptional Care at 27 Governor Street on a walk-in basis from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as well as on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings by appointment. The pneumonia vaccines are also available at RVNA flu clinics in the community. For more information, call RVNA at 203-438-5555.