Don’t Forget Your Flu and Pneumonia Vaccine

This fall, don’t forget your flu and pneumonia vaccine!   The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu shot.  People should be vaccinated every year because immunity to flu viruses declines over time and circulating strains often change from year to year.

Quoc Nguyen, MD, Onondaga County Health Department Medical Director, explained, “Getting your flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent getting the flu.” Dr. Nguyen further emphasized that the flu vaccine is especially important for children and adults with high risk conditions such as asthma.

New this year, the CDC has recommended that FluMist® (a vaccine that is sprayed inside the nose) is preferred over the flu shot for children 2 through 8 years of age because it offers better protection in that age group.   FluMist„µ is only recommended and offered to healthy children and adults ages 2-49 years old.

The CDC continues to reinforce that an annual flu vaccine is particularly important for persons at high risk for complications from the flu, or for those who have contact with people at high risk.  Those include the following:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

o Health care workers
o Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
o Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than six months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

Children under the age of nine who have never had a flu vaccine series before will need two doses of vaccine.   The second vaccine should be given one month after the first shot or FluMist®. If your child is under age nine (9) and only received one dose of vaccine last year, they should receive one dose this year.

Recommendations for pneumococcal vaccines (often referred to as the “pneumonia shot”) have changed this year for persons 65 years and older.   A new type of pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13) is being recommended for seniors this year, in addition to the standard “pneumonia shot” (PPSV23).   Adults 65 years and older who have never received a pneumococcal vaccine should receive the PCV13 shot first, followed by the PPSV23 6 to 12 months later.  If you have already received the standard “pneumonia shot”, a dose of PCV13 is recommended at least 1 year following that vaccine.

Getting a flu vaccine and a pneumonia vaccine is the best way to protect your health as well as your family, friends and others.  If you do not have a health care provider or health insurance, call the Onondaga County Health Department at 435-2000 for more information on where you can get a vaccine.