New Pneumonia Vaccine Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new pneumonia vaccination recommendations for older adults. As of last week, the CDC is advising seniors to receive an additional pneumonia vaccine six to 12 months after the first vaccination. According to William Schaffner, past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a preventive medicine specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, “To get the maximum benefit, you have to let the body’s immune system respond to the first, take a deep breath, then go with the second.” For the most effective results you need the conjugate vaccine first and the polysaccharide vaccine second, although if you have already had the current polysaccharide vaccine, you can add the conjugate vaccine after a year. Of the two vaccines, Prevnar 13, the conjugate vaccine, is the more expensive one and Pneumovax23 is the polysaccharide vaccine. If you already had Pneumovax and now want to add Prevnar you may have to pay about $135 out of pocket since Medicare currently covers the cost of just one pneumonia vaccine. Medical groups are now urging Medicare to cover the second vaccine but recognize that it is a lengthy process to change the rules.

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