What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is swelling (inflammation) of the tissue in one or both lungs. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection. At the end of the breathing tubes in your lungs are clusters of tiny air sacs. If you have pneumonia, these tiny sacs become inflamed and fill up with fluid.
What are the common symptoms of pneumonia?
The symptoms of pneumonia can develop suddenly over 24 to 48 hours, or they may come on more slowly over several days.
Common symptoms of pneumonia include:
- a cough – which may be dry, or produce thick yellow, green, brown or blood-stained mucus (phlegm)
- difficulty breathing – your breathing may be rapid and shallow, and you may feel breathless, even when resting
- rapid heartbeat
- high temperature
- feeling generally unwell
- sweating and shivering
- loss of appetite
- chest pain – which gets worse when breathing or coughing
Less common symptoms include:
- coughing up blood (haemoptysis)
- feeling sick or being sick
- joint and muscle pain
- feeling confused and disorientated, particularly in elderly people
Pneumonia can affect people of any age, but it’s more common, and can be more serious, in certain groups of people, such as the very young or the elderly. People in these groups are more likely to need hospital treatment if they develop pneumonia. In the UK, pneumonia affects around 0.5 to 1% of adults each year. It’s more widespread in autumn and winter.
Who can have the pneumonia vaccine?
The pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine is available for free at your GP surgery if you fall under certain at-risk groups. Our pharmacy, however, offers this service for anyone aged 18 years and above as a private service at a cost of £70.
How is the pneumonia vaccine given?
The pneumococcal vaccine is administered in a similar way to other vaccinations. During your consultation, your pharmacist will offer you a single dose in a needle form that is injected into the upper arm.
What are the side effects of the pneumonia vaccine?
Having had the pneumococcal vaccine is safe and worth the time to keep yourself covered, but you can expect to experience some common side effects, these include:
- Arm pain, minor swelling and redness at the point of the injection
These symptoms will subside very quickly. Our professional and friendly team are here to keep you safe during the winter months.