Protect yourself this winter against pneumonia with our pneumonia vaccine service. One vaccination can protect you for 20 years. Pneumonia affects up to 1 in 100 people in the UK
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is not the same as a cold or flu, it is a very unpleasant illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. The bacteria are airborne and spread easily through coughs, sneezes or close contact.
Pneumonia can be very severe and symptoms can last for weeks. It is commonly associated with the elderly and can be fatal; but it can occur in healthy and younger patients too.
In the UK, up to 1 in every 100 adults develop pneumonia every year, although it may be underreported as symptoms vary and can be confused with flu or chest infections.
- It develops in up to 1 in every 100 UK adults each year
- It can be fatal for more than 50,000 UK adults a year
- Over 172,000 adult hospital admissions are due to pneumonia, over 1 in 5 occur in people under 65
- Flu, colds and pneumonia can have similar symptoms, so it’s important to distinguish between them to avoid delay in preventing or treating them.
- If you have flu you could be 100 times more likely to develop pneumonia, so it makes sense to protect yourself from both.
Pneumonia can make you feel really unwell. As the symptoms of pneumonia vary and are similar to those of cold and flu, many people may not realise that they have pneumonia until they visit a health care professional.
While pneumonia may present symptoms similar to the common cold, it is in fact more severe.
- Chest pain with difficulty breathing
- A high fever, shaking chills
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Fatigue and feeling generally unwell
- A cough with phlegm that persists or gets worse
On average, people with pneumonia are unable to return to work for at least 3 weeks with 26% having a month or more off work. Even after returning to work, 50% say they feel tired for 3 months after diagnosis and nearly a third still have a lingering cough.
At risk groups
Certain groups are more at risk of contracting pneumococcal infections:
- Advancing age (especially over 45)
- Chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart, respiratory, liver/kidney)
- Immunosuppressed patients (e.g. chemotherapy, systemic steroids)
What is it?
It is caused by an infection from bacteria, viruses or fungi, which irritates the lungs and causes the tiny air sacs in your lungs to become inflamed and swell up with fluid
How long will it last and how can it be prevented?
It may take weeks to feel well again after catching pneumonia. Mild cases of pneumonia can leave you with a cough that persists for two to three weeks after treatment. Vaccination can help reduce the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common type of pneumonia.
If you catch pneumonia, you will usually be treated with antibiotics2 if the cause is bacterial. Some people may require hospitalisation where the average length of stay is ten days.
Pneumococcal infections, including pneumococcal pneumonia, can be difficult to diagnose and treat. With increasing antibiotic resistance, vaccination is particularly important because it protects people from becoming unwell and provides another way to manage the infection.
Mild cases can be usually be treated with antibiotics, lots of rest and fluids at home. Left untreated, pneumonia can be serious and life threatening.
What does the vaccination protect against?
The pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent infections caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). These pneumococcal infections include pneumonia (lung infection), sepsis or bacteraemia (bacteria in the blood stream) and meningitis (inflammation around the brain).
How does it work?
The vaccine works by helping the body make antibodies to 13 types of the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia. Antibodies are used by the body to recognise potentially harmful bacteria so that they can be destroyed before they cause infections. The antibodies should therefore help protect you against infections caused by those bacteria. As with any vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccination will not protect everyone who is vaccinated.
How many injections will I need?
In most cases you will only need one injection, but your healthcare professional may recommend further injections, based on your individual circumstances.
What are the side effects?
All vaccines can cause side effects, however not everyone gets them. The most common side effects associated with this vaccine include:
- Stomach upset (such as loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhoea)
- Flu like symptoms (such as chills, fever, tiredness or aches and pains)
- Rash or tenderness and inflammation at the injection site
At Dears Pharmacy we offer vaccination to protect against pneumonia. Our vaccination costs £70 and can protect you for 20 years. We also offer protection against flu with our enhanced flu vaccine to protect against four strains of flu at £8. All with no appointment necessary.
Call in to your local Dears Pharmacy for support and advice in our locations in Edinburgh & Fife.