Lungs play an essential role in your breathing cycles. But, an infectious condition may build-up pus or other such fluids inside your air pathways. Once these sacs (in clinical terms, known as alveoli) are affected, you may find it difficult to inhale and exhale air. This lung condition is called as pneumonia. It is known to occur among people whose immune system is not robust. Pneumonia may turn into a contagious condition if a microbe – such as a viral or a bacterial strand – is the cause behind this infection. Administration of pneumonia shot is part of the treatment plan. This shot is however known to trigger a few side effects.

Pneumonia is an infectious condition affecting your lungs. It may affect any one or both the lungs. Causes for this medical condition are many – some of the salient ones are: intake of excessive amounts of alcohol, use of tobacco products or other such habits which can compromise your immunity levels. Microbes such as fungi, virus and bacteria are other likely causes for lung infections. In the US, as many as 750,000 people are admitted to a hospital setting or a healthcare facility due to this lung condition. This condition is characterised by a few distinctive signs like incessant spells of coughing, pain in the chest, tiredness, sweating profusely, drop in appetite and breathing problems. A few people have reported abdominal discomforts like indigestion, vomiting and nausea.

It is also possible to have this lung condition without any of these signs. For instance, among babies or newly born infants, this condition may show up without any external symptoms. In general, you need to stay cautious when you develop signs like increase in body temperature, gasping for breath, persistent spells of coughing, etc. It is highly recommended to take medical attention as promptly as possible. If untreated, pneumonia may turn more acute and can lead to near-fatal or fatal outcomes.

Pneumonia shot

Vaccine or shot administered to prevent pneumonia are aimed to work against a bacterial strand called pneumococcus – it belongs to a species called Streptococcus pneumoniae. You however need to remember, this bacterium has multiple versions – as per one research, there are as high as 75 unique sub-categories of the bacteria. The good news is – pneumonia shots are efficient against many types of pneumococcus bacteria. It may take at least 14 days to 20 days for the shot to start working by activating your immune system to work against the bacteria. Though its range of defense is comprehensive, the shots do not work against other microbes that cause pneumonia – for example, virus, fungi, etc.

Adverse side effects

Pneumonia shot is likely to trigger a few adverse side effects. Most commonly reported side effects include rashes on skin or hives, increase in body temperature, inflammation or discoloration of the site of the shot, etc. In some people, the shot has triggered discomforts like headaches, tremors, weariness, fatigue, etc. There may be a possible reduction in your blood pressure – often, a symptom accompanied by passing out or fainting. Those who have a medical history of reduction in the count of platelets in their blood are likely to see a further drop in this count.

Most of these discomforts and side effects may cease to show up after two to three days. Often, this is the time your body takes to get used to the active ingredients of pneumonia shot. But, if any of these side effects persists for long, it is a good practice to consult your doctor as quickly as possible. The shot is unlikely to cause acute side effects. In rare instances, a few people reported an acute pain in their muscle – especially, at the site of injection. Also, allergies caused by pneumonia shots are very remote. In truly rare circumstances, some have noticed respiratory problems, inflammation of facial organs as well as swelling of oral parts like tongue, lips, etc.

Some people may develop dizziness or may feel drowsy immediately after taking the shot. You are hence advised to rest for 30 minutes soon after having a shot. Talk to your doctor immediately if you are experiencing adverse side effects such as blurring of eyesight, extreme spells of drowsiness or dizziness as well as ringing inside your ears.

Serious side effects

Acute or serious side effects caused by pneumonia shot are very rare and are usually uncommon. In one-off instances, a few stray side effects have been reported; such symptoms include an acute level of inflammation, hoarseness of voice, itchiness around the eyes, inflammation of glands, swallowing problems, persistent spells of weariness and fatigue. It is also possible to experience – very remotely, though – acute pains in shoulder and as result, you may find it difficult to move your hand. In case of younger adults and children, adverse side effects may include abdominal discomforts like pain in the stomach, diarrhea or indigestion. A few children who took the shot have also complained of respiratory difficulties – gasping, wheezing, etc., internal bleeding, erratic heartbeats and tiredness.

It is advised to consume plenty of liquids / fluids such as juices or water. It is also a safe practice to take rest for a few days soon after taking a shot. Last but not the least, if any of these side effects prevail over a longer period of time – say, for more than 4 days – it is a good practice to seek medical attention as soon as possible. You also need to remember that any drug is capable of causing adverse reactions as a rare phenomenon. In case of pneumonia shots, such instances may occur one in a million shots. These extremely unlikely events may include a serious internal injury or in very rare instances, may cause death. You are advised to stay aware of such remote outcomes.

Upon observing any of these serious side effects, you are advised to talk to your physician as quickly as possible. A small minority of people who took pneumonia shot noticed erratic heartbeats and quickening of pulse rate. These are also potentially dangerous signs. It is highly recommended to take needful medical help promptly. You can also reach out to the emergency helpline numbers of the food and drug administration (FDA). Those living in the US can either call 911 soon or establish immediate contact with a local poison control center. People living in any of the Canadian provinces need to get in touch with Health Canada or with a poison control unit located nearer to their homes.

Safe administration of pneumonia shot

The injection is provided as a single shot for adults. It is administered under the skin or into your muscle. Elderly people – who have attained 65 years of age, must take a shot soon after reaching 65. In some cases, another dose is provided by the end of 5 years from the date of first shot; this second dose of pneumonia shot is required for those living with a transplanted organ, people with a compromised immune system, those who have had their spleen surgically removed, etc.

People who are at risk and may hence need pneumonia shot

In general, people who may need pneumonia shot(s) include those with cardiac conditions (such as myocardial infarction, congestive cardiac failure, etc.), people who smoke tobacco products, those who underwent cochlear implant procedure, people living with diabetes mellitus, etc. You are advised to talk to your doctor about the need for a second dose. Above all, it is important to share details about your medical condition and clinical history with your treating doctor. Conjugated version of the shot is provided – in 4 distinctive doses – to children as well as younger adults.

Administration of pneumonia shot to pregnant women and breastfeeding women

Your treating physician may tell that it is possibly-safe to have a pneumonia shot during pregnancy. However, it is generally considered as risky to administer the shot at an advanced stage (or in the final trimester) of pregnancy. Shots taken in the initial stages of pregnancy may neither cause side effects among expecting mothers nor impair the health of fetus. In any case, it is highly recommended to avoid taking a shot anytime of your pregnancy.

It is also a good practice to avoid administering a shot to breastfeeding mothers. It is not clear if active ingredients of the vaccine are likely to enter into mother’s milk. Hence, your doctor may advise against taking a shot if you are nursing a baby or lactating. As a safety measure, your doctor may tell you to take a shot of the pneumonia vaccine after your delivery (in case of pregnant women) or after your child is weaned to other foods (in case of lactating mothers).

Types of pneumonia shots approved by the food and drug administration (FDA)

In the US, two pneumonia shots have the approval of the FDA. These are PCV13 and PPSV23. Of these two vaccines, PCV13 is administered onto children aged 2 years or less. It is also provided to children aged above 2 years if they have a few clinical conditions. In some instances – especially, in case of non-availability of PPSV23, the PCV13 vaccine is given to older people – aged 65 years or above. However, in such cases, elderly people are advised to take the explicit consent of their treating doctor before taking a shot of PCV13. The typical side effects of PCV13 include being in an irritated state of mind, weariness, headaches, tremors, inflammation at the site of the shot, decreased appetite, increase in body temperature, etc.

On the other hand, the shot named PPSV23 is administered onto people aged 65 years or more. Among people who smoke tobacco products such as cigars or cigarettes, PPSV23 may be administered to adults aged between 20 and 63 years. Above all, PPSV 23 may also be given to people – aged 3 to 63 years of age – if they have a few other clinical conditions. In all these instances, it is a good practice to consult your treating physician prior to taking a shot of PPSV23. This variant of pneumonia shot may trigger side effects such as muscular pains, increase in body temperature as well as pain and / or discoloration of skin at the site where this shot was given.

In sum, pneumonia shot may cause a few discomforts and side effects such as hives, swelling or discoloration at the site of the shot, increase in body temperature, fatigue, headaches, tremors, etc. Some may also develop a marked decrease in blood pressure (i.e., a spell of hypotension) and a drop in the count of blood platelets. But, almost all these adverse side effects as well as discomforts may disappear after a few days. However, if any of these discomforts persists for a longer time, you are advised to quickly talk to your treating physician and take needful medical attention on an emergency basis. Upon noticing very serious side effects like fainting or passing out, you need to immediately call 911 or reach out to a poison control center located closer to your home.

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