The one “gift” you definitely want to avoid receiving or giving this holiday season is the flu or, worse yet, pneumonia. The good news is that there are vaccines available to help protect you from catching either of these illnesses.
You’re probably familiar with the flu shot, which is safe, effective and available at any of our locations. It’s vital to get this one each year because every flu season is unique, and also because if you do happen to fall ill, it will increase your chance of getting pneumococcal disease.
Exactly what is pneumococcal disease? It’s an umbrella term that includes blood, brain and lung infections such as pneumonia, meningitis and septicemia. Getting infected with these bacteria is actually one of the leading causes of serious illness in children and adults worldwide, which is why it’s especially important to get vaccinated. Approximately 900,000 Americans contract pneumococcal disease each year, resulting in 400,000 hospitalizations. Nobody wants to spend their holidays in the hospital.
There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines, PVC13 and PPSV23, and together they cover 26 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria. They work by causing the body’s immune system to create protective antibodies that will fight the bacteria, and have been proven to be highly effective. Whic vaccine is best for you? In some cases, both, but it depends on your age and other risk factors that should be discussed with your primary care physician.
- PVC13 is recommended for children younger than 5, all adults over 65, and people 6 or older with certain risk factors
- PPSV23 is recommended for all adults 65 and older and people ages 2-64 who are at high risk for pneumococcal disease
As with the flu shot, the side effects of a pneumococcal vaccination are usually limited to mild swelling, redness and soreness at the site of the shot for a few days. Clearly worth your while when compared to the symptoms of pneumonia, which include fever and chills, cough, rapid or difficult breathing, and chest pain.
The best way to know what vaccination steps are right for you and your family is to visit one of our locations and speak with your primary care provider (PCP). You can also call AltaMed’s Nurse Advice Line (877-861-6728) for help with any questions you may have.