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Still Time to Guard Against Pneumonia

A pneumonia vaccine—given anytime and covered by Medicare—may be your best defense.

Winter is over; pneumonia season isn’t. A one-time vaccine—given anytime and covered by Medicare—may be your best defense. But a new report from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, with the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, finds millions of older adults go without the vaccine.

In 36 states, more than 30 percent of older adults haven’t been immunized. “Many adults, particularly seniors, are not optimally protected by vaccines that are currently available, safe, and effective,” says William Schaffner, M.D., coauthor of the report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 65-plus be vaccinated, although the shot won’t work for everyone or for every type of pneumonia. According to the CDC’s Matthew Moore, M.D., a pneumonia vaccination “represents a terrific opportunity for prevention.” Moore adds that if you received a pneumonia shot before age 65, check with your doctor to find out whether you need a second one.

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