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Immunizations (cont.)

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What is the varicella vaccine, and who should receive it?

Varicella is the virus that causes chickenpox. While the disease is usually self-limited, it can cause death and permanent injury. The groups at greatest risk are infants, people over 15 years of age, and immunocompromised people. The vaccine came out in the mid-1990s and unfortunately does not offer complete protection, but even those who get the disease after vaccination have a milder form of the condition. Prior to use of the vaccine, hundreds of children died every year from chickenpox. It is recommended that all adolescents and adults without documented evidence of chickenpox or previous vaccination receive the two-dose series.

What is the pneumococcal vaccine, and who should receive it?

Streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus) is a bacterium that can cause severe illness, including meningitis and pneumonia. The vaccine is routinely given to children; however, it is only given to adolescents and adults who are at higher risk (patients with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, immunocompromised individuals, smokers, and asthmatics). Elderly adults are one group that is considered at higher risk, and it is recommended that all adults aged 65 or older receive both available vaccines, PCV13 followed by PPSV23 (PCV13–PPSV23 sequence). The new recommendation for 2016 is that the vaccines be spaced over one year apart for immunocompetent adults aged 65 or older.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/14/2016


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