November 2, 2005
Contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093

(Washington, DC) Each year an average of 200,000 Americans are hospitalized by the flu, and 36,000 U.S. citizens will die from complications of the disease. With that reality, this year U.S. Senator Larry Craig is encouraging citizens to consider getting a flu shot and perhaps the pneumonia vaccine.

"Getting a flu shot and pneumonia inoculation is a means of protection and I strongly encourage older veterans, senior citizens and others to seriously consider being vaccinated. Of course, this is an individual decision, but I believe vaccination is a smart move to make," said Craig, who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Veterans enrolled in VA health care can locate their nearest VA medical facility by calling 1-800-827-1000. Ask your facility when they will be offering flu shots over the next few weeks.

For more information, try or call 1-800-LUNG-USA, or your local community health department or doctor. The VA flu Web site is


Flu vaccine recommended when


  • You are age 50 or older
  • You are less than 50 years old and have a serious long-term health problem such as: heart or lung disease, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, anemia or other blood disorders
  • Your immune system is compromised (example: HIV/AIDS patients)
  • You are a resident of a long-term care facilities (nursing homes)
  • You are six months to 18 years and who is on long-term aspirin therapy
  • You are a women who will be in your second or third trimester of pregnancy during flu season
  • You are a healthcare provider or have family members in close contact with high-risk individuals

Pneumonia vaccine recommend when:

  • You are age 65 or older
  • You have with serious long-term health problem such as heart disease, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, lung disease (not including asthma), diabetes, or liver cirrhosis
  • Your resistance to infection is lowered due to HIV infection or AIDS; lymphoma, leukemia, or other cancers; cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs; treatment with long-term steroids; bone marrow or organ transplant; kidney failure; nephrotic (kidney) syndrome; damaged spleen or no spleen
  • You are an Alaskan Native or from certain Native American populations