You’ve had a flu shot and maybe you’ve decided to get the new shingles vaccine, too. But New Jersey doctors and pharmacists are increasingly recommending people also get vaccinated to dramatically lower the chances of getting pneumonia.

“The pneumococcal vaccine protects against infection with streptococcus pneumonia bacteria and this could cause infection in the lungs, it could cause infection in the blood stream, and it can also cause meningitis,” said Dr. Tina Tan, the New Jersey state epidemiologist.

These types of infections can happen any time of the year but they usually happen in winter and early spring.

“We recommend pneumococcal vaccine for all kids younger than 2, all adults who are 65 years of age and older, people with chronic health conditions and weakened immune systems," Tan said.

She stressed this vaccine is universally recommended for all young children because “we have seen a decline in invasive pneumococcal disease among this population ever since the pneumococcal vaccine was introduced.”

Tan said that “the pneumococcal vaccine is considered very effective, also very safe.”

Pneumococcal disease, on the other hand,  results in thousands of hospitalizations every year and many deaths.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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