Influenza, commonly called the flu, and pneumonia are very serious illnesses, much more serious than you may realize.
In fact, tens of thousands die each year of flu and pneumonia.
It’s very possible that you will get these life–threatening illnesses.
As a person with a spinal cord injury or disorder, regardless of your age, you are actually times more likely to due from flu and pneumonia than the average American.
Because if you have a spinal cord injury or disorder, your lungs do not work as well as they should.
Simple vaccines can protect you from both influenza and pneumonia.
Your doctors at the VA recommend that people of all ages with spinal cord injuries or disorders get the flu shot once a year, and recommend getting a pneumonia shot if you’ve never had one.
Both of these vaccines are available at the VA.
It is a whole lot easier to get the flu that you may think.
The flu is an air–bone virus.
It’s usually transmitted when someone coughs or sneezes.
Many people around you carry the flu virus and could give it to you.
And if you get the flu, you could give it to your caregiver, your family, your friends or anybody you come into contact with.
I didn’t want to get the flu shot or the pneumonia shot because I never get sick.
But I got sick.
First I got the flu and then I gave it to my poor wife.
She really got sick.
It was hard with nobody else around to help out.
Every year I ask my husband to get the flu shot but he always refused.
I lost him to the flu five years ago.
I figured the flu as no big deal, but a few years ago I got the flu, then I got pneumonia.
I could barely breathe and I had to go to the hospital.
I spend three terrible weeks in the intensive care unit with a ventilator breathing for me.
I didn’t think I’d ever breathe on my own again.
Getting the flu is easy.
It’s even easier to get the flu shot.
Do you know what the flu did to this country and the world back in ?
Over million people died from the flu.
The thought that something like that could happen again frightens me and getting the flu shot is so simple.
I make sure I get the shot every year.
One year I got the flu shot and I got the flu anyway.
I was sure the shot gave me the flu.
My doctor explained to me that that would be impossible because the shot is made from killed flu viruses.
He said I had been exposed to the flu before the shot took effect, but that my symptoms were milder because I got the shot.
I always thought getting the flu or pneumonia shots was inconvenient but my doctor said that I could get them in any VA clinic or in my community.
And because of my condition I should get the flu shot early.
Now I get my flu shot every October.
And last year my doctor also gave me the pneumonia shot.
So how do the shots protect you?
They make your immune system stronger and get it ready to fight off the viruses.
After the shots, you may have some slight aches and pains for a day or two.
Some, but not all, people get a slight fever and feel a bit weak.
These symptoms show that the shots are working and are very mild compared to how bad you would feel if you go the flu or pneumonia.
Flu season starts in December every year.
Because of your spinal cord injury or disorder you should plan to get your flu shot every October.
The pneumonia shot can be given at any time.
Many people get it when they get their flu shot.
When you get these shots, you are protecting yourself and your family and friends around you.
There’s no need for people to die from the flu or pneumonia.
These illnesses are preventable and prevention is easy.
Do your part.
Protect yourself, protect your loved ones, get vaccinated.
You just might be saving your life.