Media contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093
(Washington, DC) With the cold and flu season upon us, veterans are encouraged to consider vaccinations for the flu and pneumonia.
"While vaccines are not without some risks and complications, studies have shown that getting vaccinated can significantly reduce the risk of getting the flu or pneumonia. Ultimately it's an individual decision, but veterans, especially those who are 50 years old or older, should consider it," said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the top Republican of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year by flu and an estimated 36,000 die, many from complications related to pneumonia. CDC officials also report that pneumonia kills more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine preventable diseases combined.
A newly published report in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who have been vaccinated for pneumonia may still get the disease, but are about 40-percent less likely to end up in an Intensive Care Unit.
Vaccinations are free for veterans enrolled in VA's health care system and offered at many of VA's 153 hospitals and more than 900 outpatient clinics. This year there is expected to be a record supply of influenza vaccine. Veterans should check with their nearest VA health care facility to learn about local vaccination programs.
Veterans enrolled in VA health care can locate their nearest VA medical facility by calling 1-800-827-1000. For more information, go online: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/flu.