By Dr Catherine Swanson

It is recommended that people over 65 yrs old have the pneumonia vaccine – Pneumovax and most people I talk to are confused about why.

Pneumococcus is a cause of serious infections. It is a type of encapsulated bacteria which means it has a shield around it that can help it evade our immune system – I think of it like a Trojan horse that can allow invaders to sneak in without being detected.

If our immune system is vulnerable – especially in infants, adults >65 and those without a spleen, it is important to get extra protection against this bacteria.

Children are immunised at 6 weeks, 4 and 6 months and Adults should have 1 dose at 65 or older. Indigenous adults are eligible at 55 yrs and should discuss this with their GP and nurse.