With the influenza vaccine shortage, it is now being urged that seniors at least get the pneumonia vaccine – which is not in short supply:
The flu-shot shortage makes it more imperative for elderly Americans to get a second, often overlooked vaccine that protects against a type of pneumonia germ thatÂ’s a common complication of influenza.
Called pneumococcal vaccine, itÂ’s a one-time shot for anyone 65 or older. Younger people with heart and lung diseases, diabetes or weak immune systems need it, too.
Bacterial pneumonia is a serious complication of influenza – and the bug that the vaccine protects against (Streptococcus pneumoniae) accounts for almost 50 percent of these cases. Here is a list of who should receive the pneumonia vaccine:
* Everyone 65 and older.
* Anyone with diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease except asthma, chronic liver disease or kidney failure.
* Anyone with weakened immune systems from cancer, HIV or organ transplants.
* People without a functioning spleen or who have sickle cell disease.
* Residents of long-term care facilities.
Medicare covers the cost the vaccine. For younger patients, cost ranges from $30 to $50.