Since viral upper respiratory illnesses trigger most cases of acute sinusitis or flare ups of chronic sinusitis, a yearly influenza vaccine is usually advisable. Influenza or “flu” commonly causes a respiratory illness much worse than the common cold. It can cause infection associated with severe swelling of tissues in the sinuses, ears, throat and lungs. If you have chronic medical conditions such as chronic sinusitis, recurrent acute sinusitis and persistent asthma, it is recommended that you receive a yearly influenza vaccination. Also if you are over 65, you are a candidate for flu shots since your age makes you more prone to infections. Flu vaccinations can be administered by injection into the arm or by nasal spray. Side effects occur in less than 10% of individuals. Side effects include local soreness, swelling and mild fever. The flu vaccine is given between September and March.
A second vaccination helpful for preventing recurrent or chronic sinusitis is the pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax®). This vaccine protects you from several strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae organisms. These organisms commonly cause bacterial respiratory infections including sinusitis. If you are under 65, this vaccine should be repeated in 10 years. If you are over 65, the vaccine should be repeated in 5 years. Side effects are seen in less than 10% of individuals. Side effects include tenderness, redness and swelling at the site of injection – usually the upper arm. This vaccine can be given any time of the year. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are not indicated for uncomplicated allergic rhinitis.