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  • Flu and Pneumococcal Vaccines

  • Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?
    Influenza (the flu) can be a serious disease. The flu affects people in different ways. Some people end up in the hospital, and some even die from it. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.

    Each flu season is different. That is why there are different flu vaccines that protect you against the type of flu viruses that doctors think will be most common during the next season. Traditional flu vaccines are made to protect against three flu viruses: two types of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and the influenza B virus. There is another flu vaccine which protects against those three plus another B virus.

    You can get a flu vaccine in many places, like your doctor’s office, clinics, and drug stores. Many employers and schools also offer the shot. Speak to your doctor about the benefits and risks of getting the flu vaccine every year.   Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.

    Why should people get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease?
    Pneumococcal (pronounced noo-muh-kok-uhl) disease can cause very bad infections of the lungs, the blood, and the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Each year in the United States, pneumococcal disease kills thousands of adults, including 18,000 people 65 years or older. Thousands more end up in the hospital. The best way to prevent pneumococcal disease is by getting vaccinated.

    There are two vaccines that can prevent pneumococcal disease:
    Prevnar 13 (PCV13 - pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
    Pneumovax 23 (PPSV23 - pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine)

    PCV13 helps fight 13 kinds of bacteria and PPSV23 protects against 23 kinds of bacteria. Both vaccines battle illnesses like meningitis (swelling of the brain or of the spinal cord) and bacteremia (bacteria in the blood). PCV13 also protects you against pneumonia.

    These vaccines are safe, but side effects can sometimes happen. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and dangers of getting the vaccines.

    Sources:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):