Pneumoccocal vaccinations can help protect you against pneumonia, a lung infection that can be fatal in some cases. Did you know, however, that some patients who should get this vital vaccination have never even heard of it? Because a single patient may have a number of doctors, doctors may miss giving them this and other vaccinations, according to national guidelines. In fact, one study in 2007 found that because it isn?t always clear what doctor is responsible for what treatment, a surprisingly large percentage of patients who were supposed to get vaccinated for both pneumonia and influenza were not giving these treatments. In a small sample group of patients with cancer, almost one third of patients who should have gotten the pneumoccocal vaccination didn?t receive it, and most were never even informed that it was an option. For some patients, that can be deadly.
The pneumoccocal vaccination has shown to be effective in up to 70% of all patients who receive it. Many different kinds of patients should consider this vaccination to prevent lung infections. It should almost always be given to patients who have had their spleen removed (splenectomy), as this procedure can compromise the body?s immune system. People with spleen-related medical conditions, like sickle cell disease or asplenia, should also be given the pneumoccocal vaccination.
Is there anyone who shouldn?t get the vaccine, even though they are dealing with a spleen-related medical condition? Yes. Patients under the age of two years old or with a history of vaccination hypersensitivity may have their health compromised by the pneumoccocal vaccination. There are other options for children that are safe beginning at the age of two months. Also, there are currently no studies of the vaccine being used during pregnancy, so this may not be the best choice for pregnant mothers, though the rewards may outweigh the risks in some cases.
In general, though, your doctor should talk to you about the pneumoccocal vaccination so that you can make an informed decision. Reports show that of the people who did not receive the vaccination, even though it was in their best interest, most were not even given information about the option from their doctors. This gap in healthcare in the medical community has caused serious lung infections and even death in some patients. Older individuals, those with HIV or kidney failure, leukemia patients, and Native Americans from Alaska are especially at risk for developing pneumonia if they have had their spleen removed.
The pneumoccocal vaccination should be given to you at least two weeks before you have your spleen removed if the splenectomy is scheduled. The Center for Diesease Control and Prevention?s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all splenectomy patients receive the vaccination, as there is no risk of developing pneumonia from it and even mild side effects are uncommon. At the same time, you doctor should also give you a meningococcal vaccination, and you should receive an annual flu shot. If you?re in a high-risk group, you may be re-vaccinated to prevent problems.
While your healthcare is ultimately your choice, it is your doctor?s duty to present you with the information you need, along with recommendations, so that you can make an informed decision. If you were not recommended for this vaccination, even though you had your spleen removed, your doctor did not follow standard protocol and may have put you at risk for serious illness or death. Talk to a medical malpractice lawyer right away to learn about your options and legal rights. Every year, many patients across the country die due to doctors not recommending the right treatments, and by filing suit, you can help prevent this from happening to others, as well as get the money you need to pay for treatment.