Keeping Grandma and Grandpa Flu-Free

Other people who should ask about the pneumonia vaccine include anyone who does not have a spleen -- you can't fight the pneumonia bacteria as well -- or people who have a chronic respiratory or other serious condition. The good news is that it can last for five to 10 years or maybe even much longer. We don't know whether a booster is necessary or will help.

I am often asked what happens if you are not sure if you already received the pneumonia shot and get another one only a few years later? The truth is this -- nothing serious will happen and I suppose once again it is better to be safe and get it if you are not sure.

However, if you have received the pneumonia vaccine a few years earlier, you run a good chance of having a sore arm. And this is but one good reason you should keep track of your own immunizations.

Another reason to keep your own records: A common excuse that seniors give for not getting their shots is that their doctor's didn't remind them. Doctors simply don't have time to remember everything about you on each doctor visit. You really need to help your doctor do her job.

If you have been reading my columns and following some of my advice, you may already carry a wallet card with your emergency health information. If you do, don't forget to update the area that lists date of pneumonia and flu shots.

If you don't carry an emergency health information card with you, you can print out this helpful form to get you started. You can also print out and keep a copy of your own immunization history. This form will be a great help to you and your doctor. Fill one out for your spouse or a friend as well.

Have you received your flu shot yet? Are you up to date on your pneumonia shot and other immunizations? Why not offer to take a loved one or neighbor for their flu and pneumonia shot?

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

Dr. Marie Savard is an ABC News medical contributor. To learn more about Savard's health management system, download free forms and a sample letter to your doctor, visit http://www.drsavard.com and click on "Learn how to take charge of your health."

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