Many of our patients have asked us about a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal about changes to the Pneumonia Vaccine Guidelines & we’d like to simplify the information for you.
- August 13, 2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an organization that sets guidelines on who should get which vaccines and when. Their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held a special meeting which resulted in a new recommendation that everyone who is 65 years of age and older should receive Prevnar 13, including people who have received the other pneumonia vaccine called Pneumovax 23.
So what’s the difference between the two pneumonia vaccines? Most people who have received a pneumonia vaccine have probably received Pneumovax 23. Pneumovax 23 helps prevent pneumonia caused by 23 different types of pneumonia causing bacteria.
Prevnar 13 helps prevent pneumonia caused by 13 different types of pneumonia causing bacteria. Some of the different pneumonia causing bacteria types that Pneumovax 23 and Prevnar 13 are meant to prevent are the same, but some are different. Additionally, your immune system may respond better to some of the bacteria strains covered by Prevnar 13 compared to the same strains covered by Pneumovax 23. Since Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 together help prevent pneumonia from more strains of bacteria that cause pneumonia, it is important that all people 65 years and older receive both vaccines.
How does it impact me –
If you are 65 years of age or older, the following pertains to you!
• If you have never received a pneumonia vaccine or do not have a vaccination record, you should receive Prevnar 13 first and then Pneumovax 23 6-12 months later.
• If you have already received Pneumovax 23, you should ask for Prevnar 13 too. You should receive Prevnar 13 at least a year after your most recent Pneumovax 23. Your doctor or pharmacist will help you to make sure the vaccine is given at the correct time.
Is this covered by insurance –
At this time, Medicare Part B and private health insurance companies typically cover only the first pneumococcal vaccine for older adults. In other words they will cover either Pneumovax 23 or Prevnar 13, but not both as the CDC currently recommends. Although your insurance company may not cover the second pneumonia vaccine you receive, it is important you receive both vaccines! Ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you obtain both vaccines.
It is important that you stay up-to-date on all vaccines. Contact your friendly Healthpark Pharmacy staff if you have any questions about your vaccination history and whether you think it may be time to get your pneumonia vaccine. It is also currently flu season! To learn more about the flu vaccine and click here.
Remember, prevention is the best form of treatment!