Letters to the Editor

Flu season is here

The flu season is certainly here. When you get your annual flu vaccination also consider your risk of pneumonia.

Many may not realize it but pneumonia, including pneumococcal pneumonia, can strike people at any age. Today marks World Pneumonia Day, a yearly reminder that pneumonia is a serious, life-threatening lung infection.

Pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, and it’s estimated that a quarter of a million Americans over 50 are hospitalized with it each year.

Our nation’s renewed dialogue around vaccinations tends to overlook adult vaccinations, but it is very important for all of us to understand our personal risk for serious diseases as we age.

Even otherwise healthy adults, as young as 50, are at increased risk for getting this serious infection due to a naturally waning immune system. Factors that further increase your risk include underlying health conditions like asthma, COPD and cardiovascular disease, as well as smoking and alcoholism.

Adults 50 and older can learn more through the public awareness campaign Who Pneu?TM, developed by the American Lung Association in partnership with Pfizer. Take an online risk assessment at Lung.org/who-pneu.

Norman Edelman, senior scientific adviser, American Lung Association, New York, NY