By Jose Alejandro , PhD, RN, FAAN
Each year, hospital emergency rooms see over 400,000 patients for pneumonia related illnesses. Unfortunately, many of these patients must be hospitalized and nearly 50,000 of these individuals lose their lives due to the severity of their illness.
Much of the pain, suffering, and expense of time and money associated with pneumococcal diseases can be avoided with a simple vaccination. These vaccines can prevent certain strains of pneumonia and protect individuals and their communities from the dangerous risks associated with the illness.
Although infants under the age of 2 and elderly individuals over the age of 64 are at a greater risk for developing symptoms, pneumonia is an infection that can travel through families and communities. When you put yourself at risk, you are putting others at risk as well.
With the winter and holiday season approaching, now is the time to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family from the dangers of pneumonia. The long-time adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still holds true today. And frankly, who wants to get pneumonia during the hustle and bustle that occurs during this time of the year?
According to The American Lung Association, there are many steps individuals can take to prevent pneumonia. These steps include washing your hands frequently, avoiding smoking and second-hand smoke, and following healthy eating and sleeping habits. And most importantly – getting vaccinated. Talking with your primary care provider and getting your pneumococcal vaccine is the best thing you can do to prevent infection. In addition, it is also important to try and stay away from people who are ill.
I encourage you to have a conversation with family members about the importance of receiving the pneumococcal vaccination this holiday season. This is a vaccine-preventable disease. Please take the time to prevent pneumonia!
¡Las vacunas NO son solamente para los niños!
Jose Alejandro is president-elect of the Case Management Society of America and previously served as president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.