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Pneumonia & Flu Vaccine Specialist

Internal Medicine of Greater New Haven

Internists located in Cheshire, CT & Guilford, CT

Pneumonia is a serious illness that affects your lungs and respiratory system caused by the pneumococcal bacteria. The flu is also a severe illness that causes fever, chills, fatigue, and body aches. The doctors at Internal Medicine of Greater New Haven, located in Cheshire, Guilford, Hamden, Milford, North Haven, Meriden, Wallingford, West Haven, and Stratford, Connecticut, offer pneumonia and flu vaccines to help you avoid serious illnesses like the flu or pneumonia to keep you healthy all year long. Take an important step in your preventive health care -- call or make an appointment online today to protect yourself against illnesses like the flu or pneumonia. Take an important step in your preventive health care.

Pneumonia & Flu Vaccine Q & A

What is the flu vaccine?

The flu vaccine is an annual inoculation against the flu virus expected for that year. This simple injection exposes you to a small and safe amount of the virus so your body can build an immunity against it.

Who should have a flu vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months have an annual flu vaccine. It is highly recommended that people with a high risk of flu complications protect their health with the vaccine. High-risk groups include:

  • Children between the ages of 2-5
  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Residents of long-term care facilities like nursing homes
  • Anyone who works with the public like teachers, nurses, etc.
  • People with asthma or other respiratory conditions
  • People with compromised immune systems

Why do I need a flu vaccine?

A flu vaccine decreases your risk of contracting the virus, protecting your health and the health of the people around you. Many people mistake severe colds for the flu, and while the symptoms are similar, the flu is a much more serious viral illness and is very contagious. The flu causes symptoms including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat and coughing
  • Runny nose

When you have the flu, these symptoms are debilitating and can lead to hospitalization and in some cases, death.

The flu is also contagious, which means that you can spread the illness to others. You are contagious for approximately the first five to seven days of your illness.

How does the flu vaccine work?

It’s best to have the flu shot early in the flu season. The flu vaccine introduces a small, controlled amount of the flu virus into your body. Over the next two weeks, your body reacts to the vaccine by producing antibodies. Then later when you’re exposed to the flu virus, your body has what it needs to fight off the disease so you don’t get sick.

Why do I need to have a flu vaccine every year?

The flu virus mutates very quickly and is different every year. Each year, scientists work to identify and predict the forms of the flu that are most likely to be prevalent during flu season (October to May). The vaccine is then formulated to protect you against the predicted viruses. Flu shots can include strains of several different flu viruses to give you the best possible protection against the illness.

What are pneumococcal bacteria?

The pneumococcal bacteria are responsible for many serious illnesses. In addition to causing pneumonia, this bacteria also cause ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis.

Pneumococcal bacteria are also considered invasive, which means they can affect parts of your body that aren't normally affected. For example, pneumococcal bacteria can infect your bloodstream, causing a condition called bacteremia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the pneumococcal bacteria make thousands of people sick, leading to thousands of hospitalizations and approximately 16,000 deaths annually. The best way to prevent these illnesses is to have pneumococcal vaccines. The doctors at Internal Medicine of Greater New Haven offer this important vaccination to help the communities in and around Hamden stay healthy.

Who should have a pneumococcal vaccine?

The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for children under the age of 2 and adults 65 or older. You should also have a pneumococcal vaccine if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Chronic illnesses that affect your heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs
  • Illnesses that affect your immune system like HIV/AIDS, cancer, spleen issues
  • Cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid leaks

There are two pneumococcal vaccines, PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) and PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine). It’s important to have both vaccines, but you can’t have them both during the same visit. You can get one vaccination when you get your flu jab and the other a few weeks later.

Unlike the flu vaccine, you don’t need the pneumococcal vaccine each year. PCV13 helps protect you against pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia. PPSV23 protects you against meningitis and bacteremia.

How does the pneumococcal vaccine work?

Like other vaccines, the pneumococcal vaccine works by introducing a small and safe amount of the bacteria to your body. Over the next few weeks, your body produces antibodies to fight off the bacteria. Those antibodies stay in your system and if you come into contact with the bacteria at another time, your body is equipped to fight it off so you can avoid illness.

Talk to your trusted healthcare provider at Internal Medicine of Greater New Haven about your vaccination needs today. You can make an appointment by calling the practice or scheduling online.