Pneumococcal Pneumonia is just one vaccine-preventable disease that boomers should help protect themselves against. Here to explain, is a physician and professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr. Donald Middleton, a spokesperson for Pfizer.
Donald B. Middleton, MD is an AOA graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He completed residencies in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina and is board-certified in both specialties. He joined the faculty at UPMC St. Margaret in 1978. During his 38 years of teaching in Pittsburgh, Dr. Middleton has served as the residency director at UPMC St. Margaret and for 3 1/2 years as the acting chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is a recipient of the Kenneth E. Schuitt Dean’s Award for Master Educator from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and has twice been the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremonies for the medical school class. He is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM).
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Thank you for joining us today. Well it’s August vaccination Awareness Month and for Baby Boomers, getting vaccinated is a very important issue if we want to keep on living a healthy lifestyle as we age. And here to explain the importance of getting vaccinations is Dr. Middleton, he’s here as a spokesman for Pfizer. Welcome to the program Dr. Donald Middleton.
Dr. Donald Middleton: Hey thank you very much for having me on. I just want everyone who’s listening in to recognize the importance of keeping up to date with vaccinations.
Neal: What are some of the vaccinations that we as Baby Boomers should keep up with?
Dr. Middleton: All adults need to be vaccinated but baby boomers seem o be in a special group because of the act that the immune system seems to work a little less well as we age. There are now many vaccines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – the CDC – recommends. Among those for Baby Boomers to help them prevent getting a serious underlying illness are things like flu vaccine, shingles vaccine, tetanus vaccine and pneumococcal vaccines. The CDC actually recommends that all adults get vaccinated against flu and that everybody get a tetanus shot every ten years and that people over the age of 50 be vaccinated against shingles
Neal: Is there one or the other that seems to be more important as we age?
Dr. Middleton: I’m not sure I could really answer that question. I think it depends on what you’re at risk of getting so I think that all vaccines have importance to each individual and that they really should not choose but get all vaccines that are recommended. The pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for people who are age 65 years and older or if you have some underlying health condition that puts you at increased risk and those health conditions are things like diabetes mellitus or COPD or if you do things like smoke which is extremely bad and put you at high risk for getting pneumonia and particularly pneumococcal pneumonia. Individuals who are 65 years of age and older are over ten times more likely to be hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia than younger persons between the ages of 18 and 49 years. So even healthy Boomers who who feel like they’re not at risk, really unfortunately are from getting things like pneumococcal pneumonia and it’s a potentially serious illness that they really need to prevent which they can do by speaking with their health care providers or physicians and getting adequately vaccinated.
Neal: Well you mentioned smoking as being a huge factor, what about living a healthier lifestyle outside of smoking and you’re living a healthy lifestyle into your 50s, mid 50s and 60s – do you still need to get that annual checkup and be vaccinated?
Dr. Middleton: Unfortunately living healthy doesn’t protect you from having your immune system age and putting you at risk for getting one of these underlying illnesses. Clearly an adequate amount of sleep, getting exercise regularly, watching your diet, not gaining excessive weight are all important to maintain your health in the long run but even when you do that, you still can have the risk of just aging and having your immune system perhaps not protect you quite as well. So unfortunately everybody – or fortunately everybody – needs to be vaccinated and we are very fortunate to have these vaccines. Everybody needs to be vaccinated appropriately, again following the CDC guidelines. For people who wish to know more about which vaccines they would need for a particular age or underlying health problem, you can visit the website cdc.gov/vaccines and that website will give you a full picture of what vaccines are needed for either your healthcare problem or your age. If you want to learn more about pneumococcal pneumonia, a great website is called www.knowpneumonia.com and that will tell you a lot about pneumococcal pneumonia and it gets yourself to be protected against getting pneumococcal pneumonia.
Neal: Does age play any part in some of the may be side effects, if any, vaccinations in your in your upper years?
Dr. Middleton: I think you have to check with your individual physician about things like what side effects might occur from being vaccinated but I just want to comment that the side effects are generally minimal and pretty infrequent compared to the risk from getting something like pneumococcal pneumonia. I mean pneumococcal pneumonia is not a pleasant disease, it causes people to be short of breath have chest pain, have shaking chills, sweats, high fever – it’s just a terrible problem and unfortunately can lead to the hospitalization and sometimes even to death.
Neal: So an annual checkup is recommended for all of us yeah?
Dr. Middleton: An annual checkup is recommended not only to be updated about your vaccine record but also to check things like whether your your diet is good, checking your cholesterol, making sure that your blood pressure is okay and seeing if you need any other preventive measures undertaken
Neal: Well Dr. Middleton has been a pleasure talking with you this morning during National vaccination Awareness Month.
Dr. Middleton: Well I hope everybody goes the right thing and gets to get to their primary care physician or health care giver. Ask about their vaccines and if you want to be pre-armed check one of those two websites cdc.gov/vaccines or www.knowpneumonia.com and I appreciate the opportunity to work with Pfizer to remind people about vaccinations. Take care, good luck to you.
Neal: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au