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We are pleased to bring you our third edition of Fast Facts. This is a brief report on
local data that we believe you will find useful in both understanding and improving the
health of our community. Our goal is to keep it brief and instructive and to provide
opportunities for all persons to positively impact the issue.  


Our topic this time is Flu & Pneumonia. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, board members and others in the community.
& Pneumonia

Flu and pneumonia are two common respiratory illnesses. Both illnesses can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes on others, when an infected person shares drinking glasses and eating utensils with others, or when somone touches the used tissues or handkerchiefs of an infected person. Pneumonia is often a complication of a pre-existing condition/infection and is triggered when a patient's immune defense system is weakened, most often by a simple viral respiratory tract infection or a case of the flu. This is especially true for the elderly.


In 2009, 1.1 million people in the United States were hospitalized with pneumonia and more than 50,000 people died from the disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for respiratory and heart conditions associated with seasonal influenza virus infections. In 2005, these conditions together ranked as the eighth leading cause of death in the United States and the sixth leading cause for people over 65 years of age.


For young children, pneumonia is a very serious illness. The CDC estimates that 4,000 cases of serious disease (meningitis and sepsis) occur each year in children under age 5 in the U.S. These illnesses can lead to disability like deafness, brain damage, or loss of arms or legs. About 1 out of 10 children who get pneumococcal meningitis dies. Before the vaccine, there were about 700 cases of meningitis, 13,000 blood infections, and 200 deaths from pneumococcal disease each year among children younger than 5 years. After the vaccine was introduced, these numbers dropped quickly.


Local Data: Total Number of Deaths that Occurred in Allen County


Disease                   2011                2012 (To date)


Pneumonia                229                    194
Influenza                        3                        2 




Together, influenza and pneumonia represented a cost to the U.S. economy in 2005 of $40.2 billion, $6 billion due to indirect mortality costs (lost future earnings) and $34.2 billion in direct healthcare costs. 

What You Can Do


 As a health care provider:

  • Ensure that all high risk groups are vaccinated with the pneumococcal and influenza vaccines, including patients over 65 years of age, the very young, and those with underlying health problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure and sickle cell anemia. Patients with diseases that impair the immune system, such as AIDS, or those undergoing cancer therapy or organ transplantation, or patients with other chronic illnesses are particularly vulnerable.
  • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that everyone over six months of age who does not want to get the flu should get the flu vaccine every year.

As a parent:

  • Ensure that your child is properly vaccinated against both diseases. Remember a flu shot provides protection for only a year.
  • Protect the people you live with and work with by getting vaccinated yourself.

As a funder or public official:

  • Ensure continued funding for the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Funding for the VFC program is approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and allocated through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to the  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


  • is a Web site of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health devoted to local information and resources for preventing and treating influenza and its complications. Visit
  • Immunization Action Coalition is a national organization that works to increase immunization rates and prevent disease by creating and distributing educational materials for health professionals and the public that enhance the delivery of safe and effective immunization services. Visit or call 1-651-647-9009.

             Pneumococcus Questions and Answers


      Influenza Questions and Answers

Fast Facts is a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and
United Way of Allen County 2-1-1
  Contact Deborah McMahan, MD or John Silcox
 c/o Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health