The sneezy season is right around the corner – it begins in November and runs through into March. Is your family ready? More time indoors means increased exposure to the germs that cause influenza, and pneumonia, a common and potentially serious complication of the flu.1
Not sure if you should get the flu or pneumococcal vaccinations? Bear in mind that these illnesses are easily spread by air-borne droplets from coughs and sneezes, contagious in the days just before and after the infected person has symptoms.1 Germs are tenacious and some, like the flu virus, can survive on a surface such as paper money for up to 17 days.2
Vaccination against the seasonal flu is recommended for all Canadians age 6 months and older.1 A one-time pneumococcal vaccination is advised for infants and children up to 4 years of age, children and teens who have asthma,3 adults who have diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, alcoholism, or an immunocompromising disease, those who smoke cigarettes, and people 65 years of age and over.4
An estimated 4,000 people die in Canada every year due to the flu and its complications.5 A large Dutch study found that in addition to reducing the risk of getting the flu virus, vaccination reduces flu or pneumonia-related complications by half. Additionally, this can decrease hospitalization for influenza, pneumonia, other acute respiratory diseases, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and stroke or diabetes events by up to 70%.6
The pneumococcal vaccination uses a weakened version of the pneumococcal bacteria to help your body produce protective antibodies. The pneumococcal bacteria can cause several serious and deadly illnesses, including bacteraemic pneumonia (lung infection with bacteria in the blood stream), sepsis (bacteria in the blood stream), and meningitis (inflammation around the brain).8 Vaccination also reduces the risk of death and related complications in hospitalized adults who have community-acquired pneumonia.6
Consider vaccination if you frequently come into close contact with any of the following people at home or work who might be more vulnerable to infection or if any of these risk categories applies to you:1,8
- Infants and young children (especially daycare age)
- People age 65 and over (especially living in a nursing home)
- Anyone expecting a newborn during flu season
- Individuals living with a chronic health condition (such as heart or lung disease, kidney failure, asthma or diabetes)
- Anyone travelling (especially to the southern hemisphere where flu season runs April to October)
The flu and pneumococcal immunizations can be given at the same time – so when you get your annual flu shot, ask your doctor if a pneumococcal vaccination is needed to protect you and your family members.7
What you don’t know can hurt you: Vaccines411 has researched and compiled a list of useful tips, articles and resources about influenza and pneumococcal diseases on the Vaccines411 flu resources page.
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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Read more Vaccines411® Articles
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- Canadian Immunization Guide Chapter on Influenza and Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2016-2017
- Germs: Everyday Items with the Most Bacteria
- Pocket Guide For Immunizers Pneumococcal Vaccination In Children
- Pocket Guide For Immunizers Pneumococcal Vaccination In Adults
- Do flu shots really work?
- Influenza and Pneumococcal Immunization
- Pneumococcal Vaccines
- Prevention Of Pneumococcal Infections Secondary To Seasonal And 2009 H1N1 Influenza