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Pneumonia Vaccine: May 12, 2012

Stan Hillman is a regular at the gym.

“I want to be healthy.”

His health is top of mind because at 67 he suffers from several chronic conditions, including diabetes and asthma.

“I’m susceptible to breathing problems I just got over bronchial pneumonia,” says Hillman.

It’s something he may have avoided with a single shot. While we’ve all heard of the flu shot, not nearly as many people get the vaccine to protect themselves from pneumonia.

“A highly contagious disease that can cause hospitalizations and death,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, Vice President of Health and Wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

Pneumonia kills 40,000 people in the U.S. every year. Stan’s diabetes and prior breathing condition were both risk factors. Health guidelines recommend the vaccine for the chronically ill and elderly.

“As you get older and certainly about 65 you should have a pneumonia vaccine,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

The pneumonia vaccine adds up in terms of dollars and ‘cents’. Studies show for every dollar spent on adult immunization, almost $19 are saved by avoiding hospital stays, doctor’s visits, medical treatment and missed work hours.

Doctors believe these immunizations should be part of everyone’s wellness checklist.

“For most adults they should go into the physician yearly even if nothing seems to be going wrong. You want to talk to your physician about immunizations. You need a flu shot, do you need a pneumonia shot,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

It’s something Stan wont overlook again.

“If you want to get the most out of your life you have to pay attention to the small stuff.”