Pneumococcal vaccine especially important for seniors

Pneumococcal vaccine especially important for seniors In response to current efforts to redistribute the influenza vaccine, the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), Medicare's Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) in South Dakota, has recommended that adults should check with their healthcare providers to see if they need pneumococcal vaccination.

"Pneumococcal disease is a common bacterial infection that can be a complication of influenza, especially in older adults" said Gerald E. Tracy, MD, medical director. "Medicare claims data from 2001 indicate only four in 10 South Dakota residents 65 and older have received the pneumococcal vaccine."

"With the influenza shortage this year, it is even more critical that South Dakota residents receive the pneumococcal vaccine," said Dr. Tracy, "If you do develop influenza, a pneumococcal vaccination may give you protection against one of its most frequent complications."

"Plenty of pneumococcal vaccine is available," Dr. Tracy said. "South Dakota residents should call their healthcare providers and ask if they need a pneumococcal shot."

Unlike the influenza vaccination, Dr. Tracy said that most seniors 65 and older need only one pneumococcal vaccination in their lifetime; a booster shot may be required for those who received their shot before the age of 65.

In the light of the influenza vaccine redistribution, the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) reminds healthcare providers to offer influenza vaccination only to those deemed high-risk by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

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