Should my 96 year old mother get the pneumonia vaccine?

Zara asked...

I am considering putting my 96 year old Mother in Assisted Living Memory Care. Does she need a pneumonia vaccine before she enters? I don't know if she has ever had one.

She is very frail. I have read some elders have a bad reaction to this vaccine and sometimes even result in death.

I would appreciate any responses, pro and con, anyone has on this vaccine.

Thank you.

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Officially, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pneumonia vaccine be made available to protect against pneumonia in all people over 65 years old, even if they suffer from diseases that weaken the immune system.

Regarding your statement about a "bad reaction" from this vaccine, it has been my experience that this shot is well tolerated in most people. I work in a long term care facility, where this vaccine is given to almost every patient we have, and I have only seen one allergic reaction to it in all my years of practice (I have been here 11 years). Also, all of my patients are frail, very elderly, and above the age of 85. Generally, most people experience some soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, but this will go away in a few days. Only a handful of people get fever, general muscle pain, or a sore lump at the place the vaccine was given. Hope this helps!