I sailed through last winter without a major problem.
— Dorothy Huhn
Former Bevo Mill-area resident fights back from pneumonia
“I love it here!” Dorothy “Dottie” Huhn celebrates a return to her old neighborhood around Bevo Mill in south St. Louis. The 66-year-old St. Louisan is a happy picture of health, a far cry from when she was hospitalized with pneumonia.
“I had fluid in my lungs and developed complications,” she says. “I was in the hospital for more than a week. It was awful.”
Huhn bounced back and is now one of the thousands of Missourians who are heading into this year’s cold and flu season with the added protection of a pneumonia vaccine.
“I knew about getting my flu shot, but I didn't know there was a pneumonia vaccine until my doctor looked at my medical records and suggested it last year,” says Huhn. “I sailed through last winter without a major problem.”
In its 2010 report, “Assessing the Health of Our Communities,” the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) noted a striking correlation: the steepest decline in the number of older adults hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia — down 13.1 percent — occurring at the same time as a steep increase in the pneumonia vaccination rate among adults age 65 and older.
“Pneumonia kills more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined,” says Beth Sjoblom, MD, a board-certified internist who specializes in caring for older adults. “The vaccine doesn't reduce the number of pneumonia cases, but it is very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death. Taking active care of one’s health, including staying up-to-date with immunizations and screenings, may change the course of an illness.”
Dottie Huhn agrees. “In the past several months, I've had a mammogram, colonoscopy and wellness exam, and I've had my blood sugar level checked,” she says. “It sounds like a lot, but Dr. Sjoblom really cares about my health. She's doing her best to keep me well and out of the hospital. I like her a lot, and I like staying healthy!”
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