Health officials are encouraging people to take preventative measures with new vaccine recommendations for pneumococcal (pronounced noo-muh-kok-uh-l) disease.
“It sounds a little silly but is actually pretty serious,” said Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo, district health director for LaGrange-based District 4 Health, in a press release. “But if you have already had the vaccine, you probably know how to pronounce it. What you maybe didn’t know is that both PCV13 and PPSV23 are now being recommended as a two-part package.”
PCV13, also known as Prevnar 13, refers to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria, according to the CDC’s website. PPSV23, also known as Pneumovax, refers to pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, which protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
“This disease is what causes pneumonia (infection of the lungs), bacteremia (infection of the blood steam) and meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord),” said Obasanjo. “It can be passed along from person to person with direct contact through saliva or mucus. The best protection for yourself is to get the vaccination.”
CDC officials estimate that about 900,000 Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia each year and about 5 to 7 percent die from it, according to the agency’s website. It also states an estimated 3,700 people died in the United States from pneumococcal meningitis and bacteremia in 2013.
The vaccine is recommended for all ages, but for those 65 and older, or considered at high risk for pneumococcal disease, District 4 officials especially recommended receiving the vaccination package. Older adults are considered at high risk due to the possibility of weakened immune systems, chronic illnesses, smoking or, in some cases, living arrangements, noted Obasanjo.
Anyone wanting information about best options on an individual basis or seeking to schedule vaccination appointments may call the Troup County Health Department, 900 Dallis St. in LaGrange, at 706-845-4085.
Reach the LaGrange Daily News at 706-884-7311.