The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 65 and older get the pneumonia shot. "The pneumonia shot is doubly important for seniors with diabetes because diabetes weakens the immune system even more," according to Donald Wilson, MD, Quality Insights of Pennsylvania Medical Director. "People suffering from a chronic illness, whether diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or cancer, should get the pneumonia shot even if they are not yet 65."
Medicare pays for the shot if it's ordered by a physician and you are enrolled in Medicare Part B. Unlike the flu shot, which should be received yearly, most seniors need only one pneumococcal vaccination in their lifetime. The shot offers protection for at least five years.
Pneumococcal pneumonia kills more people every year than all other vaccine preventable diseases combined, according to the CDC. They estimate that as many as 40,000 Americans die from pneumonia each year.