National Adult Immunization Week Highlights the Need for Vaccination
Even healthy older adults are at increased risk for serious lung diseases.
(August 26, 2018) - WASHINGTON, D.C.
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Each week of August's National Immunization Awareness Month highlights a different segment of the population that is vulnerable to infectious diseases and the importance of vaccination. During National Adult Immunization Week, August 26 - 31, the American Lung Association reminds adults that there are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccination against potentially serious lung diseases.
More than just a bad cold, influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia are potentially serious infections that are among those vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.
- Pneumococcal Pneumonia, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, is often spread through coughing. The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can come quickly and may include high fever, excessive sweating and shaking chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee recommends that all adults 65 years or older receive pneumococcal vaccination.
- Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a highly contagious virus that is usually spread through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms can impact the entire body and may include fever, headache, muscle aches, a dry cough, sore throat and nasal congestion. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination every year.
"Age alone increases the risk of serious lung infections for more than 47 million Americans over the age of 65, because the body's immune system naturally weakens with age," said Dr. Albert Rizzo, Senior Medical Advisor at the American Lung Association. “An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the United States die from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases or their complications each year."
Older adults and those with weakened immune systems or certain chronic health conditions – like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – are especially vulnerable to infectious disease. In fact, for adults 65 and older, the risk for pneumococcal pneumonia, as compared to healthy adults 65 and older, is greater for those with a chronic lung disease:
- 3.8 million adults are at 7.7 times greater risk due to COPD
- 3.5 million adults are at 5.9 times greater risk due to asthma
- 4.2 million adults are at 3.9 times greater risk due to smoking
"It's always better to help prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs," said Dr. Rizzo. "Vaccines are vital to helping to protect lung health, especially when it comes to influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia, which can potentially have a devastating impact on the lives of those whose lungs are already compromised by asthma, COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions."
Take an online quiz to assess your risk of pneumococcal pneumonia at Lung.org/pneumococcal, developed in partnership with Pfizer. And for more information about the flu, visit Lung.org/influenza or call the America Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.
To speak with a Lung Association expert about lung health, contact American Lung Association in the District of Columbia Communications Director Ewa Dworakowski at [email protected] or 717-971-1123, 717-503-3903 (cell).
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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