November is Flu and Pneumonia observation month.
Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that is one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season. Influenza is spread easily from person to person usually when infected person coughs or sneezes. Influenza vaccines (Flu shots) are vaccines that protect against infection by influenza viruses. The CDC recommends annual influenza (flu shots) for everyone age 6 months or older. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for flu complications which include anyone 65 years and older and pregnant women.
It is best to get the Flu shot before the flu begins spreading in your community. The CDC recommends that you start getting flu vaccine by the end of October, because it takes at least two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu. Even though it is best to get the shot as soon as the flu vaccine is available, getting the vaccine later can still be helpful, even at late as January is still a good idea.
Pneumonia is a serious infection of the inflammation of the lungs. The air sacs fill with pus and other liquid blocking oxygen from reaching the bloodstream. If there is too little oxygen in the blood, the body’s cells cannot work properly which lead to death.
The connection between Influenza and Pneumonia is Influenza is a common cause of pneumonia, especially among younger children, elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. Most cases do not lead to pneumonia, however the one that due are more severe. The flu and pneumonia were the eighth leading cause of death in the United States in 2015.
Both Influenza and pneumonia are protective vaccines although none are 100% protective. As flu strains change each year it is necessary to get a flu vaccination each season to make sure you are protected against the most current strains. Pneumonia vaccinations re usually only necessary once, although a booster vaccination may be recommended for some individuals. Ask your healthcare provider if you are up to date on your vaccinations and to determine if any additional vaccinations are right for you.
Written by LaVella Head