Senior News Line

Have you had your second pneumonia shot? Some of us either don't know the vaccine comes in two parts, or we forget to ask for it a year later when we need the second dose.

The two vaccines are called PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) and PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers refer to how many strains of bacteria each one covers.

We generally call it pneumonia, but its official name is pneumococcal disease, and it can be serious. On the mild end of the spectrum, it might cause only a sore throat or sinus infection. On the other hand, besides pneumonia, the disease can cause infections of the blood, brain and spinal cord.

The pneumonia vaccine is one you might want to get at your doctor's office, even if it's handier to go to the local pharmacy. The reason is that there are certain warnings about whether you should or shouldn't have one or the other of the two shots. Your doctor will be able to check your medical records to be sure the vaccine is right for you.

Pneumonia is transmitted by direct contact through mucous or saliva, and others can pass it to you without even knowing they have it. Be sure to wash your hands frequently!

Medicare Part B will cover the cost of these vaccines if you get them a year apart.

(c) 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.

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