Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Conversation: Until a Coronavirus Vaccine Is Ready, Pneumonia Vaccines May Reduce Deaths From COVID-19


Three weeks ago, in #NatlPrep: Giving Your Preparedness Plan A Shot In The ArmI mentioned that this year - in addition to getting my annual flu shot - I elected to receive my one-time Prevnar Pneumococcal Vaccine PCV13) at the age of 66, even though I'd previously received the Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) more than a year ago.

Although I might have done so eventually anyway, our COVID-19 pandemic provided additional impetus for my deciding to take this second pneumonia vaccine this fall. 

While nothing I write in this blog should be construed as medical advice, the CDC's recommendations on who should get these pneumococcal vaccines - and when - follow:

Who Should Get Pneumococcal Vaccines?

CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children younger than 2 years old and all adults 65 years or older. In certain situations, other children and adults should also get pneumococcal vaccines. Below is more information about who should and should not get each type of pneumococcal vaccine.

Talk to your or your child’s clinician about what is best for your specific situation.

CDC recommends PCV13 for
  • All children younger than 2 years old
  • People 2 years or older with certain medical conditions
  • Adults 65 years or older also can discuss and decide, with their clinician, to get PCV13. 
CDC recommends PPSV23 for
  • All adults 65 years or older
  • People 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions
  • Adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes

Admittedly, I wasn't privy to any data showing that getting the PCV13 vaccine would significantly reduce my risks should I contract COVID-19. It just made sense to me - given my medical history - to reduce my odds of bacterial pneumonia complications if I were to fall ill with the coronavirus (or any other illness).  

Besides, it was quick, easy, and was covered by my insurance.

Yesterday, however, a lengthy article appeared in The Conversation - written by Robert Root-Bernstein, Professor of Physiology, Michigan State University -  which lays out a case suggesting that  receipt of pneumococcal vaccines may substantially reduce the risk of death from COVID-19.

The article is too long to post in its entirety, and too chock-full of data to cherry pick, so I've elected to simply post the link (below), and recommend you follow it to read it in its entirety. 

Until a coronavirus vaccine is ready, pneumonia vaccines may reduce deaths from COVID-19
October 14, 2020 3.18 pm EDT

While it may be some time before the actual impact of pneumococcal vaccination on COVID-19 mortality can be quantified, these early findings suggest there may be benefits to the vaccine in the fight against this pandemic virus. 

If you haven't received these pneumococcal vaccines - and fall within the CDC's guidelines to receive them - you may want to discuss this option with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.   

For those who would like to learn more about pneumococcal vaccines, the CDC has a wealth of data including:

Expert Commentary

CDC Commentary – Updated Recommendations for PCV13 Use in Older Adults
Running Time: 5:08 mins
Date Released: 01/31/2020
Learn about considerations for this new shared clinical decision-making recommendation.