question and answer
Pneumovax: one jab should do the trick
July 2009
How often should we repeat Pneumovax in elderly patients?
M. KRIEGER, MD, Toronto, ON

Approximately 50% of all cases of pneumonia occur in the age 65 and over group. Strep pneumonia accounts for most cases of community-acquired pneumonia.

The currently available Pneumovax is a polyvalent vaccine from 23 serotypes. Pneumovax 23 is recommended for all persons 65 years and older and a single dose is usually sufficient. If the initial vaccination was more than 5 years earlier and the patient was aged under 65 on first vaccination, then one further booster dose should be given. For patients who have had a splenectomy or are immunocompromised due to chronic renal failure, myeloma, lymphoma, etc., the second dose should be given 5 years after the original dose. Pneumococcal vaccination can be given at the same time as the flu shot, but not at the same site.

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