The Times West Virginian

Local News

July 2, 2014

Adults 65 and older encouraged to get pneumonia shot

FAIRMONT — While many may think of vaccines as something for school children and babies, it is also important for adults to keep up to date with their vaccinations.

The West Virginia Medical Institute issued a release Monday encouraging adults 65 years of age and older to get their pneumonia shot.

“The immune system weakens with age, making it harder to fight off the deadly illness,” the release said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that all adults age 65 and older get the shot.

Pneumonia can be particularly dangerous for older adults. Complications from pneumonia can include serious infections of the lungs, blood and covering of the brain (meningitis). Pneumonia kills one out of 20 people who get the disease, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While it is commonly thought of as a flu-related complication, pneumonia can also be contracted independently of the flu. Pneumonia can be contracted year-round.

Luckily, the pneumonia shot is also available year-round.

Donna Riffle, director of nursing at the Marion County Health Department, said that the pneumococcal vaccine is one of the many vaccines available at the department’s weekly vaccine clinics. The pneumonia vaccine is available for $25.

While flu shots are given annually, most seniors will only need one pneumonia shot in their lifetime, Riffle said. The shot provides protection for at least five years.

“They probably only need it one time. There are some times where their doctor may want them to get it again,” Riffle said. People should consult with their doctor, Riffle said.

If a patient has received a pneumonia vaccine before they turned 65, they should get a second vaccine after turning 65, Riffle said.

The vaccine clinics are held on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Schedules are posted each week, though appointments are not necessary. The vaccines available include vaccines for both adults and children.

Other important vaccines for adults include the TDap, Zostavax and the flu shot, all of which are available at the clinic for $25, Riffle said.

TDap is a vaccine for tetanus with a booster for pertussis.

“It is very important for adults to get that,” Riffle said. “People may not keep up with the tetanus. They may think they only need that if they get hurt, and that’s not the case. They should have a tetanus every 10 years. However, if they get an injury and it’s been 5-7 years (since their last shot), they need to have that given.”

This year’s flu vaccine will be available beginning in late August or early September.

“Every adult, everybody, if they’re 6 months and older, should get a flu vaccine every year,” Riffle said.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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