Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton nearly collapsed at a 9/11 ceremony after feeling over-heated. Her campaign later announced that two days prior she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Her wobbly early departure prompted wild speculation about her fitness, and her health became a poll issue. Political pundits, media, and even feminist groups weighed in on her health issue.
The episode left many Americans unsure about the state of her health—some even questioned whether she is fit enough to be the commander in chief!
But the truth is pneumonia is a common and highly treatable illness for which people Clinton’s age, 68, are at high risk. If we have learned anything from her pneumonia episode, is that prevention is better than cure.
Pneumonia is an acute infection of the lungs. Pneumonia can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The virus invades your lungs and causes them to swell and block your flow of oxygen. Influenza/Pneumonia is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S.
To potentially ward off pneumonia include getting an annual flu shot. If you haven’t already gotten your flu shot, don’t wait much longer—flu season is just around the corner. Doctors suggest that if you can prevent the flu with a flu shot, there are fewer chances of you getting the secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older gets vaccinated against the flu every year by the end of October, if possible. However, getting vaccinated later is OK. And vaccination should continue throughout the flu season, even in January or later. CDC recommends mentioned some rare exceptions such as those with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine ingredients or potentially those with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome following a previous flu shot.
American Lung Association also suggests vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia for children younger than five and adults 65-years-old and older. The pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for all children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease due to other health conditions.
If there is one dominant flu myth, it is that flu shot is going to give you the flu, which according to doctors is not true. Except for AstraZeneca’s FluMist, the intranasal spray, injectable flu vaccines use inactive strains of the influenza virus that help reduce your chances of getting the flu. For 2016-2017 CDC recommends only the needle option for flu vaccination for children, after finding last year’s flu mist to be mostly ineffective.
You can visit doctor’s offices, drugstores, and other companies that offer vaccinations in preparation for the upcoming flu season that typically lasts from October to April.
You can find mapped locations of flu vaccine clinics near you by simply entering your zip code or city and state to the Flu Vaccine Finder.