Pneumonia and other vaccines

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, June 13, 2014


THE enthusiastic response of the public, especially the Senzens, my term of endearment for our senior citizens, to the whole-day 3rd and last Saturday of May at the Mercury Porta Vaga, for a significantly-discounted fee for flu and pneumonia vaccine, became a strong encouraging stimulus to have another activity. This time whole afternoon vaccination for flu June 7.

Again, the turnout of eager vaccinees is an indication the level of health awareness of the folks in Baguio and nearby Cordillera is impressive high. For making those activity possible for the general public, the author joins the populace in saying a big “Thank you” to Mr. Jonathan Gaces, Ms. Joan Celeste and Ms. Catherine Mauri of Porta Vaga branch.

Pneumonia is a serious infection of the lungs and very common cause of death especially among elderlies. Probably, because of decreased immunity due to ageing, for some reasons the infection among old folks is rather fast and unless, aggressively managed, usually lead to death.

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Patients with hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive lung disease e.g. smokers, those on steroid therapy and of course, alcoholics and the malnourished are very prone to pneumonia.

The causative microbe is a bacteria called Diplococcus pneumoniae or just Pneumococcus. In contrast to other respiratory diseases like URTI or acute tonsillitis, influenza or even bronchitis in which the patients may be sent home with prescribed medications, patients with pneumoni have to be hospitalized because of dyspnea - difficulty of breathing - and the so-called respiratory acidosis - the ph of the blood becomes more acidic than normal because of the accumulation of carbon dioxide which cannot be expelled and the difficulty of oxygen to enter the lungs. Thus the need for continuous oxygen inhalation. Aside from that, the fever in pneumonia has a septic pattern - very high fever which drives the heart rate and respiratory rate very fast, leaving the patient restless, tired and emaciated.

My favorite and ever-ready-to answer-questions pediatrician Cathy Gomez of SLU Hospital emphasize that for adult vaccines, there are several strains. Pneumonia vaccoine strain 23 typically is given every five years, or 2 years. Other strains may be given at different schedules depending on the over-all health status of the patient and lifestyle, for example, travel abroad, vices and maintenance medicines that may compromise immunity.

At the moment, there are 5 strains of the hepatitis virus. The hep B virus can be passed on to others through body fluids, including blood, semen, copoius saliva; from mother to child through placental transfer or breastfeeding; use of intravenous drugs or even accidental pricking of body from needles used to obtain specimen from affected patients.

Again, there are variations and modifications which your family doctor may suggest to individualize your protection. In general, hep B shots are given three times within a period of six months. It must be emphasized those who are unfortunate to contract hepatitis B and are not immediately attended to and not followed up conscientiously may be prone to develop hepatocarcinoma (malignant liver tumor) or cirrhosis.

The world we live in has become the habitat of other organisms, much to the chagrin of humans. We have no choice but to co-exist with them. However, we have a lot of choices of vaccines. Isn’t it time you visit your favorite doctor?

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 14, 2014.

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