Don’t get the killer disease, Pneumonia. Be vaccinates FREE at the Health Fair Friday

Nanette Daigle Administrative Assistant Ascension Council on Aging

Quick, what do Apache Indian leader Geronimo, dancer Fred Astair, actor Charles Bronson and evangelist Oral Roberts all have in common? You probably guessed from the title of this article, they all died from Pneumonia. You also probably know that Pneumonia is an infection of the lung with symptoms including a cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. When you see your doctor for a cold and he listens to your lungs and says, “Take a deep breath please”, he is checking you for Pneumonia. “But it’s an old disease”, you say, “and they have antibiotics to cure it, right?” If only that were true especially for Senior Citizens!

Pneumonia is a huge killer of Americans especially older Americans. It is the sixth cause of death overall. More Americans die from Pneumonia than from auto accidents and among Seniors, pneumonia is ranked by most studies to be the fourth leading cause of mortality, even higher by some. Most of the deaths during flu season are not caused by the flu. You become weak from the flu or some other disease that would otherwise be curable and it is Pneumonia that kills you. It gets worse. The Pneumonia germs, Streptococcus pneumonia also causes blood and brain infections. In the U.S. more people die from Pneumonia each year than from all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. Perhaps because most of the victims are elderly anyway, although Pneumonia can and does kill younger people too, you don’t hear nearly enough about this awful disease. The sad part is it is often preventable. There is a vaccination available that can save the lives of most people by preventing them from getting the Pneumonia bacteria in the first place.

Adults over the age of fifty should be vaccinated against Pneumonia. For certain, all adults over 65 should be vaccinated and for good measure, individuals who are around adults over 65 should also be vaccinated so they don’t end up sharing the disease with older family members and others. People who had a vaccination before age sixty five should have another vaccination when they are older than sixty five and for most people, a booster shot is in order every five years.

The Ascension Parish Council on Aging has made arrangements with RiteAid Pharmacy in Gonzales to offer free Pneumonia vaccinations during the Free Health Fair, Friday, April 26 the at Lamar Dixon Expo Center from 9 a.m. until Noon, just bring your Medicare or Medicaid Card with you to the Health Fair. COA’s Executive Director, Darlene Schexnayder said, “We will have a lot of fun events for Senior Citizens at the Health Fair, Health Food Samples, drawings for door prizes, lots of free snacks and several free health screenings that can save seniors quite a bit of money. We also have a delicious free lunch for everyone at noon and dancing to live music courtesy of the Ascension Recreation Department but the most important thing our clients and older friends can do is to get their free Pneumonia vaccination or booster shot if they need one. This can really save your life or the life of someone you love! I plan to be in line to get my Pneumonia vaccination. I will see you there.

For more information, call the ACOA Senior Centers at (225) 473-3789 or (225) 621-5750.