Seven Things to Know About Adult and Pedia Vaccines

Seven Things to Know About Adult
and Pedia Vaccines

Joy Rojas

Are the flu and pneumococcal vaccines interchangeable? Can you skip the COVID-19 vaccine if you got these shots? CMI internal medicine specialist Dr. Ronna Cheska De Leon-Yao has the answers

If you are still on the fence about whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine or not, consider this: Vaccines have been administered in various stages of our life, beginning as early as infancy and extending to our senior years.

In the first 18 months of life, vaccines against hepatitis, DTap (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis or whooping cough), measles, mumps, rubella (or German measles), and polio are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So too are rotavirus, influenza B, chickenpox, and pneumococcal vaccines. Children as young as 6 months old can also start receiving the flu shot annually.

Moreover, pre-teens and teenagers are given human papillomavirus vaccines (HPV) and the vaccine known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis). A pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for adults aged 19 to 64, and a zoster vaccine is administered to prevent shingles in those aged 50 and above.

“In general, vaccines are used to induce immunity in the body even before we get an infection, so that once we encounter a virus or bacteria, our body is able to fight it,” says Centre Medicale Internationale (CMI) internal medicine specialist Dr. Ronna Cheska De Leon-Yao. “Most of the vaccines that we need are already given at the start of our lives because of the Expanded Program on Immunization by the Department of Health. Some of the immunity that we develop from certain vaccines (like Tdap and zoster) will wane over time. As adults, we need to get booster shots of these vaccines to prepare our body for the future.”

Dr. Yao addresses seven common concerns about vaccines:

As viruses and bacteria evolve, so do vaccines. Because the flu virus contains many characteristics that are constantly changing or mutating, developers regularly come up with a vaccine containing different strains of the influenza virus to protect people against those viruses.

“Actually, there is a Northern Hemisphere influenza virus and a Southern Hemisphere influenza virus, and here in the Philippines, we usually get the latter,” says Dr. Yao. “This is usually given from April to September to protect against strains that they project will cause the influenza infection.”

Do not discount the importance of the flu vaccine. Back in the day, being down with the flu for a few days to a week was one of life’s givens. If we survive it each time, why get vaccinated at all?

“Sometimes I still encounter people who have that mindset. ‘Oh let us just get the flu and get it over with,’” says Dr. Yao. “But the flu vaccine is one of the most important vaccines that an adult can get. When we get the flu, we miss school and work, plus it can cost you. So it is really more of a preventive measure.”

Getting the flu may seem innocuous, but it can lead to serious complications. “The influenza virus can cause lower respiratory tract infection, or what we know as pneumonia,” says Dr. Yao. “Severe types of infection from influenza are more commonly encountered in older patients and those with certain medical conditions. It is good for these vulnerable sectors to have an added layer of protection.”

The flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine are two different things. For those who tend to interchange the two or think they can get double the protection with just one or the other, here is the deal. “The flu vaccine is directed towards the flu virus while the pneumococcal vaccine gives protection from the pneumococcal bacteria,” says Dr. Yao.

If you got a “lifetime” pneumococcal vaccine, you still have to take another type of pneumococcal vaccine. PVC13, which protects against 13 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria, is administered once in adults. But they would still need protection against 23 other strains of pneumococcal bacteria. That is where PPSV23 comes in. The vaccine is also given once, usually to adults aged 65 and up, a year after PVC13.

The flu and pneumococcal vaccine are not intended for COVID-19. Though a number of articles from reputable sources say that these vaccines may lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms, the World Health Organization explicitly states that vaccines against pneumonia, the flu, and the Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) do not protect against the new coronavirus.

“People might think that just because they got the flu or pneumococcal vaccine they do not need to get the COVID-19 vaccine anymore,” says Dr. Yao. “The COVID-19 vaccine was specifically made for the COVID virus.”

Not sure if you got the pneumococcal vaccine? Take another one. This happens often among parents who misplace their baby’s immunization records, says Dr. Yao. “It will not harm an individual to get another shot. But the extra dose will not give you added protection or benefits.”

You can still get the flu or pneumonia after you have been vaccinated. Like the breakthrough infections currently experienced by individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19, getting the flu or pneumonia is still possible after you have gotten shots for them. According to the CDC, you may have already been infected with the flu virus or pneumonia bacteria before you got vaccinated, or catch a virus or bacteria strain not covered by the vaccination that was given to you.

Still, that does not mean that they do not work. Both the flu and pneumococcal vaccine reduce the severity of the disease in people who get sick even if they are vaccinated.

Get vaccinated in a facility that is safe, sterile, and looks after you and your family. CMI offers premier outpatient experience in a clean, spacious, and secure environment. The strict observance of health and safety protocols against COVID-19, plus built-in safety measures such as negative pressure airflow and High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing (HEPA) filters ensure relaxed, worry-free in-person appointments.

Family Photo

Jennifer Marundan has gotten annual flu vaccinations and other routine immunizations for herself, her husband, and their kids—Sam 12, Nathan 11, and Ellie, 4—in CMI. “Our family doctor mentioned that kids who have been vaccinated with influenza vaccines during this pandemic are less likely to be severely ill or hospitalized. Also, since we have comorbidities, my husband and I opted to have the pneumococcal vaccine as well for extra protection against respiratory illnesses,” she says. “My kids love going to CMI because it feels more like a posh hotel lobby rather than a clinic. It is super clean and you can see that the staff and the doctors practice strict safety protocols to make their patients feel safe and comfortable.”

To inquire about vaccines or make an appointment for a vaccination, call CMI today at 0927 931 7194 or email

Published 26 October, 2021

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