From 1988 to 1995, Washington County's death rate from influenza and pneumonia for people ages 65 and older was 36 percent higher than Maryland's, according to Washington County Health Department.
Each year in the U.S., pneumoccal disease accounts for an estimated half million cases and up to 40,000 deaths from pneumonia.
The current pneumonia vaccine provides protection against one of the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia, pneumococcus.
Despite that, there are more cases of pneumoccal disease than any other vaccine-prevented diseases, says Linda Humbert, director of nursing for Washington County Health Department.
Unlike the flu vaccine, which is needed annually because the viruses that cause the flu can change from year to year, pneumonia vaccine usually is given only once - although some individuals may need boosters after five or six years. Pneumococcal vaccine can be given any time during the year. Pneumonia and flu shots can be given at the same time without increasing side effects, according to information provided by Washington County Health Department. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that the injections be given in different limbs.