Pneumonia Vaccine Screening– Patients Age 65+

By Mark Ingerman, MD, Infectious Diseases and Preventive Medicine

A 2004 Pennsylvania State law, which is still in effect, requires that hospitals screen patients age 65 and older for pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination.  If the patient is not hospitalized for pneumococcal pneumonia and desires to receive the vaccine, it must be provided during the hospitalization.  Beginning Tuesday, June 27, nurses will begin to screen elderly hospitalized patients for pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, and physicians will be notified if the patient requests vaccination. For the initial pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination in those patients who have never had this vaccine, Previnar-13 is the recommended vaccination.

If the patient has prior pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination, the hospital screening will be completed by the nurse and no further action is required; the patient will continue to be followed by their primary care provider (PCP) who initiated the vaccination series.  

To reiterate, if the patient does not have prior pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination of any type, then we are required to offer it during hospitalization. The initial vaccination for those patients would be Previnar. The patient should follow-up with their PCP for subsequent pneumovax-23 vaccination in approximately one year to complete the CDC-recommended vaccination series.  

The Elderly Immunization Act of 2004 requires that:

[w]hen an eligible person* is admitted to a hospital for a period of more than 24 hours for a condition unrelated to … pneumococcal disease, he or she shall be informed that a vaccination for … pneumococcal disease is available and provided the opportunity to receive vaccination against … pneumococcal disease prior to discharge from the hospital.

*Eligible person = Hospitalized patient age 65 and older

Source:  Elderly Immunization Act of Jul. 15, 2004, P.L. 731, No. 85, Sec. 3. Available at:

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