By Catherine Wolf, KWMU
St. Louis, MO –
The St. Louis County Health Department is encouraging people in high risk groups to get vaccinated against pneumonia this flu season. Officials are concerned the new swine flu strain could lead to more pneumonia cases than normal.
The department recommends children five years and younger and adults older than 65 get vaccinated. It is making the recommendations in accord with the Centers for Disease Control.
Department spokesman Craig LeFebvre (luh-FEB) said the vaccine could reduce the risk of getting pneumonia from flu.
"We're encouraging people at this point to get it because one, it's in advance of the flu season, and two there is a chance if the flu season becomes particularly severe that the health care system will be burdened with the additional task of vaccinating large numbers of people."
LeFebvre said the pneumonia vaccine should not be used a replacement for a yearly flu shot because it will not protect against seasonal flu or the swine flu strain.
The health department recommends people with existing health issues like diabetes or heart disease also get vaccinated.