Health Team

Smokers can be vaccinated against one disease they risk

Posted November 6, 2008

— Cigarette smokers can get vaccinated for at least one potentially fatal disease for which their habit puts them at risk, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that they do so immediately.

In the United States, one out of 20 people who develop pneumococcal pneumonia die from it.

"The pneumococcus is the most common bacteria to cause pneumonia, sinusitis and bronchitis," said Dr. David Weber, a infectious disease expert with University of North Carolina.

The pneumococcal vaccine has been recommended for a long list of high-risk groups – including people over age 65; those with diabetes, chronic or congestive heart failure, liver failure and pulmonary disease; and immuno-compromised patients, such as those with HIV or on chemotherapy.

The CDC recently added cigarette smokers to the list of at-risk groups.

"We've known for decades that cigarette smokers are more likely to get both bronchitis and pneumonia because of the effects cigarette smoking has on the cilia in the lung that fight infection," Weber said.

Since smokers are less able to fight off infection, they are at higher risk of dying from pneumonia and in more need of the vaccine to protect them.

The vaccine is available at most doctors offices and local health departments. Insurance providers covers the cost for the at-risk groups.

But doctors urge that the best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit. That immediately – and dramatically – cuts their risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung diseases. And it can add years to a person's life.


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  • anonemoose Nov 11, 2008

    smokers really need a vaccine against stupidity. So much for thinning out the gene pool, but I guess by the time smokers croak, the gene pool has already been urinated in.

  • scientistjo Nov 11, 2008

    luke, are you suggesting that vaccines don't work? I don't see anyone with polio, do you?

  • luke Nov 11, 2008

    Vaccines only work for the bottom line of the company who makes them!!

  • Deacons Nov 10, 2008

    smoking is the most disgusting, nasty habit I know of. I cannot stand to be anywhere near it.


    Keep Puff, Puff...Puffing away is good for you.. Sooner or later you will die anyway......Why not enjoy it

  • mrtwinturbo Nov 7, 2008

    Hey thanks mjjunk!! I smoked for years and quit, a little vaccine might just help

  • mjjunk Nov 7, 2008

    Here you go MrTwinTurbo:

    "Wyeth's Prevnar vaccine protects against seven strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae and is a routine childhood vaccination, pulling in $2.5 billion a year for the company.

    Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, made by Merck and Co under the brand name Pneumovax, is given to the elderly, patients with asthma and others at high risk of lung infections."


  • mrtwinturbo Nov 7, 2008

    And not word of the name of this vaccine in this article...what's up with that?

  • ghimmy51 Nov 6, 2008

    yeah but all those years without a smoke ..