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Flu and Pneumonia Prevention: Vaccines May Help

 

Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines

by: Jerry Hickey, R. Ph. Follow on Google+

Healthy Tips from our Scientific Director

We are moving into the cold and flu season and the CDC is urging many of us to get this season’s flu vaccine. The reason for this is a higher mortality rate connected to cold weather and the flu. Yet most individuals do not realize that pneumonia is the big killer and that many deaths related to the flu actually occur because of a concomitant or secondary pneumonia infection.

Unfortunately in many recent seasons the best guess by experts has not always targeted the strains of influenza reaching our shores and spreading infection and although immunized, infection can still occur. The great news is that there is strong preventative action you can take to protect yourself from lung infection aka pneumonia – the real killer.

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination (PPV) stimulates resistance to 23 out of 80 pneumococcal bacteria; the vast majority of pneumonia infections are caused by the 23 serotypes contained in the vaccine. The vaccine is injected into the body to stimulate the normal immune system to produce antibodies that are directed against pneumococcal bacteria. All adults over the age of 65 are candidates for the injection and it is usually given around September but it is not too late. Usually one dose of PPV is all that is needed. Yet in some circumstances a second shot is recommended for those over 65 who had their first dose when they were under 65, if five or more years have passed since the first dose. For more information on PPV contact the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO or 1-800-232-4636. In a future Health Tip I will recommend foods and nutrients that help decrease the risk of infection.

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