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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Pneumovax

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An indi vidual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

[posted 01/17/2000]
Question: I am 68 years of age. In 1993, I had Pancreatitis, and had an operation in which 25% of my pancreas was cut off and removed and my spleen and gall bladder were cut off amd removed. A few days after the operation, I was injected with pneumovac. My question is this: Do I have to renew this injection at any time? I am in good general health right now and play a lot of tennis. If I don't renew this injection, specifically what bad symptoms, if any, would I have? Thank you for your answer. Murray West

Answer: The pneumovax is to decrease the liklihood of pneumonia. This is a big issue for you since with the lack of a spleen, dissemination of bacteria from the primary pneumonia through the blood stream will not be blocked/limited as it would be with patients with an intact spleen. The spleen acts as the "blood filter" to limit/remove bacteria in the blood stream among other things. Encapsulated organisms are particularly at risk and this is exactly what the pneumovax targets. You should repeat this at least every 8 years, some would say 5 and get a vaccination against Hemophilis Influenza also(this is a bacteria not "the flu").

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