August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the American Lung Association reminds older Americans that children aren’t the only ones who can receive vaccinations to help prevent disease – adults should be mindful of vaccination recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The American Lung Association, in partnership with Pfizer, is urging adults age 50 and older to talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated against serious and preventable lung diseases such as influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia.
“It’s always better to help prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs,” said Norman Edelman, M.D., Senior Scientific Advisor of the American Lung Association. “One of the best things you can do to take charge of your health is to talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated.”
Approximately 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the U.S. die from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases or their complications each year. More than just a bad cold, seasonal flu and pneumonia are serious lung diseases. Pneumococcal pneumonia, specifically, has been estimated to hospitalize a quarter of a million Americans 50 and older, with an average hospital stay lasting five days.
The risk of contracting these potentially life-threatening respiratory infections increases even for healthy adults as the immune system naturally ages. And adults with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and those adults who smoke are at even higher risk.
“Vaccines are vital to protecting lung health, especially when it comes to influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia, which can have a devastating impact on the lives of those whose lungs are already compromised by asthma, COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions,” said Edelman.
“Healthcare providers play a vital role in educating their patients on the need to keep their immunizations up to date,” said Gregg Sylvester, M.D., Vice President, Americas Medical & Scientific Affairs, Pfizer Vaccines. “We’re committed to increasing immunization rates to help reduce the spread of vaccine preventable diseases and encourage older adults to make it a priority to confirm their vaccination needs with their healthcare provider.”