Should you get the pneumonia vaccination?

Pneumonia Flow ChartAre you at risk for pneumonia this winter? Pneumonia and flu are deadly illnesses that reach their peak during the winter months.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 900,000 Americans get pneumonia every year and 45,000 to 63,000 people die from pneumonia-related complications. While a flu shot is encouraged every year, not everybody needs a pneumonia vaccine, says Brian Curtis, MD, director of Specialty Care Physician Practice for OSF Medical Group in Peoria.

“The odds of getting pneumonia as a young, healthy adult are pretty low, while the odds of getting the flu are pretty good,” Dr. Curtis says. “Immunizing is a very advantageous way to help prevent a lot of illnesses. You protect yourself and you also protect those around you. There will always be a subsection of the population that will be vulnerable to pneumonia due to medical conditions or because they cannot get vaccinated. Getting yourself vaccinated also helps keep that vulnerable population safer.”

Young, healthy adults who unfortunately get pneumonia can expect to experience cough, fever and a prescription for about 5-7 days’ worth of antibiotics. However, people with medical conditions are at a higher risk of complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

Vaccine types

There are two types of pneumonia vaccine. The first vaccine is the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). The second vaccine is the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Healthy adults under the age of 65 don’t need either one. However, depending on your health, you might need to get both to protect yourself from pneumonia and any possibly dangerous complications.


This vaccine is given to infants in a series of shots until the age of 15 months. The U.S. government recommends that a person receives one dose between the age of 6 and 18. Between the ages of 19 and 64, anybody with a blood disorder, a damaged or missing spleen, a compromised immune system, kidney disease or cancer, should get this vaccine.

At age 65, everyone should get this vaccine and follow it up with a dose of the other pneumonia vaccine type at least one year later.


Like the other vaccine type, this vaccine should be given to all people age 65 or older. Anybody age 19 or older who is a smoker, or who has asthma, should get this vaccine, too.

People between the ages of 2 and 64 should get this vaccine, too, if they have heart disease, lung disease, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, alcoholism, a compromised immune system, a damaged or missing spleen or cancer.*

For more details about who should get the pneumonia vaccine, and when they should get it, please visit the CDC website and the HHS website.

Unlike the flu vaccine, adults do not need to get the pneumonia shot every year. The pneumonia vaccines typically last about 10 years, according to Dr. Curtis. We have provided a convenient chart below to help you determine if you are at a higher risk of complications and should contact your doctor’s office to ask about the pneumonia vaccine. If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not you need the pneumonia vaccine, please call your doctor’s office.

* Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)


Quick Action Saves Mendota Golfer’s Swing

dsc_4043-copy2John Kuchta, of Mendota, was loading up his neighbor’s tractor to take to the shop. What he thought would be a simple job, turned out to almost cost him the full use of his left arm.

As John was trying to load the tractor, he saw the wheels weren’t perfectly aligned with the loading ramps. So, he put the tractor in neutral and attempted to get off and realign the wheels. As he put it in neutral, the tractor went up the ramps and threw John off and into the road.

“I landed right on my elbow,” John said. “When I came down on it, I knew I was in really big trouble. I stood up and saw my arm flopping around. So, I knew I needed help pretty quick.”

John’s neighbor came to see if he was OK. He asked her to take him to OSF Saint Paul Medical Center’s emergency department.

Speedy response

“I arrived to the emergency department and have never experienced so much attention in my life from people,” he said. “Within minutes of arrival, a few nurses came rushing to get me and brought me back to a room.”

John was met by Dr. Brian Pope, emergency room doctor, who immediately ordered an X-ray. The results were not good – a dislocated and shattered elbow.

Dr. Pope made the decision to operate right away. He set John’s elbow and put on a soft cast.

“This all happened within about two hours,” he said. “That’s what impressed me the most is the staff’s sense of urgency and attentiveness to my injury. It was unbelievable.”

The following morning Dr. Allen Van, an orthopedic surgeon at OSF Saint Paul Medical Center, put a hard cast on John’s arm.

Dr. Van said John’s situation was one of the worst cases he had seen and predicted a lengthy recovery.

“I vividly remember Dr. Van saying I could potentially only have a 20 degree bend after rehab,” John said. “That’s not what an avid golfer wants to hear.”

A 20-degree bend meant that John’s arm would never be fully straight again.

Physical therapy

He began rehab at OSF Saint Paul nine weeks later after his cast was removed. His arm was stiff and he was unable to move it at all.

“I knew rehab would be a pretty painful process,” he said. “But I was determined to have full use of my arm again and wasn’t going to accept anything less.”

Ashlee Hoff was John’s occupational therapist and worked with him three days a week.

“From the moment I met Ashlee, I knew I was working with a dedicated, goal-oriented professional who would do whatever it took to attain my goal,” John said. “She dedicated every session to making improvement from the previous session.”

After three and half months of difficult therapy, John’s arm is almost completely straight. And he was able to get back on the golf course to play a couple rounds before winter.

“I can’t thank the whole staff enough for what they did for me,” John said. “I felt fortunate to receive the best of care at OSF Saint Paul.”


Good Health Habits Can Help Prevent Flu

Washing your hands often can help prevent flu.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu.

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

7. Consult the experts

Talk to your primary care physician about getting your flu vaccine and other steps you can take to avoid the flu. Don’t have a primary care physician? Find one here.

Source: CDC

Bringing the best medical students to Peoria

The relationship between the Illinois Neurological Institute (INI), OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP) has always been a close one, with INI specialists practicing at OSF Saint Francis while serving as faculty and leadership for the campus’s neurology and neurosurgery departments. Now, the organizations are relying on their relationship to draw the most promising neurology and neurosurgery medical students to Peoria for medical school and, hopefully, encourage them to establish a long-term practice in Peoria.

Fellowships and residencies

Medical StudentsTogether, UICOMP, INI and OSF Saint Francis are increasing the campus’ neurology and neurosurgery offerings, hoping to prompt the best medical students, with an interest in neurology and neurosurgery, to opt for the College of Medicine’s Peoria campus. For the INI, this is an opportunity to ensure the neurology and neurosurgery services at OSF Saint Francis remain strong.

“What makes the difference between one medical center and another is smart people,” says  Patrick Elwood, MD, of the INI. “The best way to get smart people is to bring them in as students, and keep them as residents, and keep them beyond that.”

“We would like to bring the strongest students to this campus, ultimately to enhance our residencies. We are going to offer more electives, more mentoring, and more research opportunities, with significant funding for medical student research.”

Mentoring for medical students

Mentoring is a vital service to students, according to Elwood. INI and UICOMP have the resources to really benefit students, in the form of experienced, connected and respected faculty members. Mentoring is not just about guiding the decision making of students, it’s also about knowing the opportunities available to those students and making sure they get those opportunities.


The INI has also set up a robust medical student research fund to support both short-term and long-term research experiences. There are laboratory opportunities involved in research around brain tumor, cerebrovascular, brain and spinal cord injury and degenerative brain disease. Plus, many of the INI’s clinical centers have active clinical trials that involve medical student participation.

The sheer number of research opportunities, the large number of elective offerings at the 18 INI specialty centers, the peer support group for medical students and an increased number of fellowships and residencies will make UICOMP the best option for College of Medicine students interested in neurology and neurosurgery.

Busting Myths About the Flu

Busting Myths about the FluDon’t let bad information guide you into harm’s way this flu season. Know the difference between what is true about the influenza vaccine and what is false. Then go get vaccinated.

Myth: The vaccine can give you the flu.

Fact: OSF HealthCare offers vaccines that aren’t live and cannot infect you.

Myth: You don’t need to get vaccinated every year.

Fact: Immunity to the influenza virus declines over time, so you should get the flu shot every year for maximum protection. Plus, the vaccine is updated every year to protect against the flu strains expected to be most common.

Myth: Getting vaccinated guarantees you can’t get the flu.

Fact: It takes up to two weeks after getting vaccinated to build up immunity to the flu. You can still get sick during this period. Plus, even after getting vaccinated, you could still catch the flu from a strain of the virus not included in the vaccine. Take steps to prevent the spread of germs during the flu season.

Myth: The flu is not dangerous.

Fact: The flu causes the deaths of thousands of people every year. The very young, the very old, or people with health issues are especially at risk of dangerous complications from the flu.

Myth: People with an egg allergy cannot get vaccinated.

Fact: People with egg allergies can receive the influenza vaccine. However, if you have severe egg allergies, you should be vaccinated where you can be supervised by a health care provider.  If you have had a bad reaction to the vaccine in the past, you should not get vaccinated.

Myth: People with a latex allergy cannot get vaccinated.

Fact: OSF HealthCare offers vaccines that don’t contain any latex.

Myth: The flu shot contains mercury.

Fact: Flu vaccines used to contain a preservative called thimerosal, which contained ethylmercury. In small doses, ethylmercury is not harmful to humans.

OSF HealthCare offers vaccines that are free of any thimerosal.