November 13th, 2012 (InsideCostaRica.com) Pneumonia caused 425 deaths in Costa Rica in 2011. As a result, doctors are asking the population to receive a preventive vaccine to avoid catching the illness that continues to take lives, especially senior citizens and children under 5 years of age.
Smokers, asthma patients, people with emphysema, diabetes, and heart and kidney problems are especially at risk, and should pay special attention to any pneumonia-like symptoms.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes difficulty in breathing, high fever, pain in the chest and back, cough with phlegm, and sometimes, a dry cough accompanied by sweating and the feeling of extreme fatigue. If not treated adequately and in time, it can cause serious complications and even death.
Wing Ching Chan, a pulmonologist at Hospital Mexico, said pneumonia is a serious illness that can be prevented by vaccination. He also said that many who fall ill with pneumonia mistake it for a common cold.
“In the month of August, some of the vaccines that were available through the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS) had expired, because people who were unaware of their need for the vaccine did not use them,” said Chan.
According to the CCSS, pneumonia is the 3rd cause of death of senior citizens in Costa Rica.
Chan is asking Costa Rica residents to start vaccinating as of the 3rd week of November, when a new batch of the “neumo23” vaccine will be available to residents at CCSS clinics and hospitals. According to Chan, the vaccine is 80% to 90% effective in preventing the illness. For children 2 years old and younger, specialists recommend the “prevenar13” vaccine.