Get Healthy: Vaccine available to protect against pneumonia

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINEFlu is dominating the press coverage lately, but there is another illness that should be on your mind this time of year: pneumonia. Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause illness in people of all ages. Signs of pneumonia can include coughing, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, chills, or chest pain. For some people, pneumonia can develop as a result of an infection with the flu. That’s why it’s important to encourage friends and loved ones, especially those with certain health conditions like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated against both the flu and bacterial pneumonia.Pneumococcus bacteria live in many people’s noses and throats without making them sick. When those bacteria spread to the lungs, pneumonia or other infections can develop. The microbes that cause pneumonia are spread when people who are infected with them cough or sneeze, even if those people are not sick. It is not clear why some people become sick while others do not.The vaccine that protects against pneumonia is available at Carson City Health and Human Services or at your physician’s office. Pneumococcal vaccine protects against 23 different strains of bacteria that cause illness. This family of bacteria is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable illness in the United States.“Pneumococcal vaccine is important because it protects against the most common types of bacterial pneumonia, especially for people at high risk,” says Marena Works, director of Carson City Health and Human Services.Those high-risk groups include people up to 64 with chronic conditions such as heart and lung diseases, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, and those with compromised immune systems. Those who smoke or have asthma should consider being vaccinated. Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for everyone over age 65. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at or “like” us on Facebook at


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