Current Recommendations for Pneumococcal Vaccine with Autoimmune Disease


recommendations on pneumonia vaccine and autoimmune diseaseThrow the word “vaccine” out to a crowd of people and you are bound to hear some heavy opinions.  Talk of immunizations begins at birth and follows you throughout your adult life.  For many, flu shots have become a common standard as the seasons approach winter.  If you are living with autoimmune disease, you may want to educate yourself about the pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine as well.

What is pneumococcal disease?

The CDC defines pneumococcal disease as follows: “Pneumococcal disease is defined as infections that are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus.  Resultant infections from pneumococcal disease can be devastating and may even cause death.

The most common types of pneumococcal infections according to the CDC include:

  • middle ear infections
  • sinus infections
  • lung infections (pneumonia)
  • blood stream infections (bacteremia)
  • meningitis

According to the CDC (see the risk category list here in full) people with diabetes are persons recommended to have the pneumococcal vaccine.  The risk category is titled “immunocompetent persons”- take notice that is different than immunocompromised.  The CDC powerfully states:

“Although people with diabetes are more likely to die with the flu, about 50% do not get an annual flu shot. Pneumococcal disease kills more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined, and people with diabetes are at greater risk.” – CDC

What is autoimmune disease?

Autoimmune disease is a diverse group of immune mediated diseases, in which the body produces antibodies against its own cells. Some examples of autoimmune diseases are type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and hashimotos thyroiditis.

Dr. Bingham, director of John’s Hopkins Arthritis Center states “a lack of familiarity with vaccine recommendations and a lack of communication between rheumatologists and primary care physicians contribute to underutilization of vaccines in patients with autoimmune disease.” ~ According to the

Can children receive this vaccine?

Yes, children can receive a pneumococcal vaccine dependent upon their age, health circumstances and previous vaccination schedule.  There are two different pneumococcal vaccines available.  See your health care practitioner and ask them if they recommend a vaccine for you, your child or another family member.

Most recently according to the U.S. FDA, they have approved Pfizer Inc’s Prevnar 13 pneumococcal vaccine “to include the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease in children 6 years through 17 years of age caused by serotypes contained in the vaccine.”


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