You’re no doubt aware of the importance of getting your flu vaccine every year, especially if you fall into certain risk categories. But did you know that pneumonia can be prevented too? With pneumonia being the leading cause of death in the United States that can be prevented by vaccine, your nearest walk-in clinic will be armed and ready to protect you each year when the vaccines become available.
Pneumonia is a bacterial infection often caused by other illnesses such as bronchitis or lingering flu symptoms. The pneumonia vaccine (called PPV) for adults is administered to protect from 23 different types of pneumonia bacteria. The pneumococcal vaccine has been widely available in the United States since 2000, but only recently has there been a push to widen its use. This campaign to vaccinate against pneumonia has been fueled by many strains becoming stronger and resistant to antibiotics.
In the United States, health care professionals recommend the flu vaccine be given to everyone over 6 months of age. While most healthy adults can soldier through a bout of the flu in a couple of weeks, the virus can be especially deadly to certain risk groups, such as people over age 65. Each year, the CDC develops a new flu vaccine because the virus is constantly changing. Even in healthy adults, the flu can lead to serious complications. This is why it is important to get vaccinated annually.
Who Is At Risk?
The major high-risk groups for complications from the flu and pneumonia include:
- People over 65 years of age
- People with compromised immune systems
- Children under age 2
- People with existing heart or lung disease
- Anyone with HIV, kidney failure or diabetes
Health care professionals at your local urgent care center or walk-in clinic can determine by your medical history how much of a risk you are for contracting either illness. They may administer both vaccines at once (they will be given one in each arm) or suggest one vaccine over the other. Nasal spray flu vaccines are also available, and are especially helpful for children who have trouble with injections. Don’t wait until you get sick – visit your walk-in clinic for your vaccinations before it’s too late!