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Wimmera Health Care Group is using this week’s Pneumonia Awareness Week to let people know there is a vaccine available for the illness.

WHCG respiratory nurse educator Heather Macdonald said pneumonia affects a large number of Wimmera people each year.

"Pneumococcal pneumonia can affect anyone, but there are some higher risk categories that people should be aware of," Ms Macdonald said.

"The vaccination is very effective, but it is still possible to get pneumonia after vaccination.

Pneumonia can be caused by both bacterial and viral agents, pneumococcal pneumonia is a more severe form, and can be prevented by vaccination.

"If you do contract pneumonia after vaccination, it will be less severe with faster recovery, and you will also be less contagious to other people."

Pneumonia can take up to 6 months to fully recover from and can reoccur within 12 months, especially if you already have a chronic health condition.

"You may experience prolonged periods of tiredness and lethargy, as well as ongoing shortness of breath on minimal exertion," she said.

"Pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended for people aged over 50 who have had pneumonia. An assessment and education session has also been shown to be of benefit in regaining health and minimising risk of re-infection."

A Pneumococcal vaccination is available from General Practitioners and is funded through the National Immunisation Program, and is available to people in high risk categories:

-People aged 65 years and over.

-People with medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or a chronic disease affecting the lungs, heart, kidney or liver.

-Indigenous Australians aged 50 years and over.

-Indigenous Australians aged 15 to 49 years who are medically at risk.

-Infants aged 12 months or younger.

For further information on pneumonia visit lungfoundation.com.au/pneumonia or phone 1800 654 301.

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