Concerns about lung infection from COVID-19 raise questions about pneumonia vaccine

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Every year in the U.S., about 1 million adults seek hospital care for pneumonia, a disease that attacks the lungs.

What some are wondering is whether getting the pneumonia vaccine could help prevent lung complications due to COVID-19.

“This is a really interesting question and the answer is simple: the vaccine will not protect you from the coronavirus but it could have some potential benefit if you do get the virus,” said Dr. Anna Z. Hayden with Broward Health.

As a pharmacy clinical coordinator for Broward Health, Angie Maharaj is around people with a variety of health issues and also deals with her own underlying conditions that put her at risk for viral infections, which is why she decided to get vaccinated against pneumonia.

“It’s really important that patients protect themselves from any infectious diseases, and that includes pneumonia,” Maharaj said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends young children and adults age 65 and older, as well as people with underlying health issues, get a pneumonia vaccine.

“Getting vaccinated will prevent hospitalizations and deaths from pneumonia,” Hayden said.

So could the vaccine offer some protection for people who suffer from lung infections after contracting COVID-19?

“The pneumococcal vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, however it will reduce pneumococcal infections, and other pathogens that may occur while you’re sick with COVID,” Hayden said.

And even if you don’t fall into one of the high risk groups defined by the CDC guidelines, Hayden said it couldn’t hurt to ask your doctor or pharmacist about the potential benefits of getting vaccinated against pneumonia.

“You must have some concern that you might be at risk, like you’re exposed to certain situations, such as working in a daycare, and if your insurance won’t cover it, there is patient assistance to cover it,” Hayden said.

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