The beginning of flu season is just around the corner. Now would be a good time to get your annual flu shot. You may also need a pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine based on your age or underlying medical problems.
Each year, tens of thousands of Americans are hospitalized and die from flu and pneumococcal infections. The best way to protect yourself is by getting vaccinated.
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It is most common between the months of October and March but can extend into May. It is a very contagious disease that spreads easily by coughing, sneezing and close contact with other people. Anyone can get the flu. It strikes suddenly with symptoms such as fever, chills, achy muscles, fatigue, cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose. Pregnant women, the elderly, young children and people with asthma, diabetes and heart disease are at the highest risk of developing serious and long-lasting complications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu shot every year. It’s best to get vaccinated before the end of October because it takes two weeks for antibodies to develop after you get vaccinated.
Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause issues like pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, blood infection and meningitis. The CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all children under the age of 2, adults 19 to 64 with certain risk factors (such as diabetes, asthma, chronic heart conditions, liver disease, lung disease, kidney disease, sickle cell anemia, cancer, diseases that affect the immune system, a non-functioning spleen, alcoholism or for those who smoke) and adults 65 years and older.
Adults 65 and older need two different pneumococcal vaccines for better protection, according to a revised vaccination schedule from the 2015 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
If you haven’t received your vaccines yet, contact your primary care physician or pharmacy. If you don’t have a primary care physician, click the icon below to find one near you.