Oprah Winfrey was hospitalized with pneumonia, recommends the flu shot

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Oprah is gearing up for a busy next year. She’s partnering with WW and is going to travel to nine cities across the country as part of her Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus tour. She’s going to talk about her own “wellness journey,” and will help attendees plan and embark on their own. She’s also going to invite celebrities and special guests to join her. I always think of Oprah as one of those people who is always on and has an endless amount of creative energy, but recently, she had a scary bout of pneumonia, and her situation was grim. Good Morning America has more:

The media mogul told Ellen DeGeneres Monday that she was “cleared yesterday” after battling pneumonia for several weeks.

Winfrey said she thought she had a cold, but later went to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia.

“Pneumonia is nothing to play with, y’all. It is very serious,” she said, adding that eventually she was referred to a lung specialist. “He puts his stethoscope here and I see the ‘Oh s–t’ face. It was like, ‘Oh my God, something’s wrong with you.’ And I can see it. He didn’t hide it.”

“He immediately said, ‘You must cancel everything.’ I’ve never canceled anything in my life,” she continued. “He’s like, ‘You must cancel everything. You can’t fly for a month.’”

Fortunately, after a week on antibiotics, Oprah’s health improved:

“[My lung specialist] called me everyday to make sure I was using the inhalers and taking the right antibiotics,” she marveled. “When I walked in and I was better, he thanked me three times for getting better and said, ‘Can I have a hug?’… I could tell he was like, ‘Not on my watch is this gonna happen!’”

[From Good Morning America]

That’s incredibly scary. Thank goodness the antibiotics worked. The doctor seems relieved, too. I can’t imagine the pressure that doctors face when they are dealing with patients whose health is precarious, never mind the extra layer of, “Oh, sh-t. I’m treating OPRAH. She has to get better!” (The article notes that there are two kinds of pneumonia: viral and bacterial, and that Oprah probably had the latter, since she was on antibiotics.) Viral pneumonia can be caused by the flu, and Oprah wants us to get our flu shots. Celebitchy reminded me that Savannah Guthrie also had pneumonia and also had a terrible experience. Whoopi Goldberg was in a near-death situation after getting hospitalized with pneumonia and sepsis earlier this year. I was already planning on getting my flu shot in a few weeks, and this is a great reminder to not put it off, as it has the potential to lessen the effects of the flu and also lessen the likelihood that I’ll get viral pneumonia. I don’t have time to get sick!

Here’s that segment of Oprah’s interview on Ellen.

Also Oprah is relaunching her book club!

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18 Responses to “Oprah Winfrey was hospitalized with pneumonia, recommends the flu shot”

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  1. Rapunzel says:

    Just got Coates’ book in the mail. Love him!

  2. Avery says:

    This is the exact same thing that happened to me. I caught the flu and developed pneumonia. It was horrible. I was out of work for 5 weeks and had to go on short term disability. You don’t know how sick you really are. My doctor listened to my lungs and was shocked that I was going to work. He was astounded that I was walking around like that and was close to having my lung collapse. I get a flu shot every year since then.

    • Dani says:

      Happened to me in January too! Was the most awful experience. I coughed up a gold ball sized lump of green mucus while at Stop N Shop. Scariest moment of my life. When I went for xrays my lungs were so full of water that the doctor hospitalized me that same hour.

  3. Lisabella says:

    As a life long asthmatic, I’ve experienced pneumonia numerous times. Most elderly people die from pneumonia as their immune system is compromised. Every time I see a smoker, I tell them what’s going to happen to them – even people I know who smoke “other” things besides cigarettes – they have no idea what they’re doing to their lungs, the 2nd hand smoke damage they’re doing to others… pneumonia

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Pneumonia is very dangerous and nothing to play with. Symptoms don’t always present as people expect them to appear either. My dad had several life threatening bouts of pneumonia in which symptoms were things like feeling the need to urinate but unable to do so (dehydration) and inability to control lower body motor functions – we watched him try to stand up for about half an hour one night when he was unable to put weight on either leg. It can escalate very rapidly. He had one episode when he was arguing with me that he didn’t need to go to the ER as the paramedics wheeled him to the ambulance and just seconds later, the driver running back into the house to tell me they wouldn’t make it to our hospital of choice and were heading to a closer ER; his systems were shutting down. He was on life support twice for pneumonia. Don’t mess with it!

  5. Irene says:

    Flu shot is rarely effective though. They formulate the vaccine many months before. By the time the flu arrives, the virus has mutated. The past several years, the vaccine offered very low protection. It does compromise your immune system when you receive it, thus making you more susceptible to illness shortly after you get it. I wish it wasn’t so, but it’s far from perfect and effective.
    Glad Oprah is feeling better! Pneumonia is scary.

    • El says:

      Do you have any links about a flu shot compromising the immune system? Typically vaccinations stimulate the immune system to make antibodies so I’m unclear of the mechanism. I have read that getting measles does impact the immune system and makes individuals more susceptible to other diseases for a few years after getting measles, but I’ve never read about vaccinations reducing immunity. Totally agree that vaccinations don’t guarantee you won’t get the flu. My son got the flu last year but our doctor told us his symptoms were reduced because he had been vaccinated. Thankfully it was a mild case.

    • Erica says:

      The flu shot isn’t like, say, the measles vaccine, where if you get a measles vaccine it’s very unlikely you’ll ever get measles. The flu shot doesn’t do such a great job of preventing you from getting the flu because of the virus’ mutations, but it DOES do a great job of preventing serious complications like pneumonia and, most importantly, death. Otherwise healthy children who haven’t been vaccinated against flu can die very quickly after developing symptoms. Oprah is also of the age where she’s more susceptible to pneumococcal infections, so maybe that’s what she had and why she also said pneumonia shot?

  6. ME says:

    There is a pneumonia vaccine you can get. Seems like Oprah didn’t get her pneumonia from the flu as flu season hasn’t even started yet in North America. Of course her doc was calling her everyday. She’s rich and famous and they get better treatment than regular folks do. Make sure you cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough and sneeze. Also wash your hands A LOT or use alcohol based sanitizer. I see so many people who don’t give a sh*t about spreading germs. They just don’t care about other people.

    • lucy2 says:

      I got that vaccine a while back – I did allergy testing and some other stuff, and it came back that I had basically zero resistance to pneumonia, so I got the booster. Luckily too, as last year I contracted Lyme, and my immune system was a disaster for about a year.

      I always get my flu shot – even if it’s not perfect, it’s better than nothing, and like most vaccines, it’s good for those who CAN get it to help protect those who can’t.

  7. Lizzieb says:

    Earlier this year I had pneumonia and had to take leave from work. Am still dealing with after effects of a pneumothorax and trouble with my sinuses causing vertigo. Oh and I have asthma too. The pneumonia vaccine isn’t one hundred percent nor is the flu shot but highly recommend especially if you are high risk. It might lessen your disease so that you survive. Great advice above about how to limit spreading germs

  8. (TheOG)@Jan90067 says:

    I got pneumonia three times in my life, viral and bacterial. It is NOTHING to play with. I was sick with 105* fever, inhalers, masks… awful!!

    GET THE FLU SHOT (I’m getting mine tomorrow), and while you’re at it, MAKE SURE TO GET THE PNEUMONIA VACCINE (you only need that every 5 yrs). It will not PREVENT flu/pneumonia, but it WILL LESSEN SYMPTOMS if you do get it!

  9. Soupie says:

    Nope Sorry. Took it once, never again. Some people are deathly allergic to those things I also don’t take the pneumonia shot after having it once – ended up in the hospital.

    That was not aimed at you Jan. At Oprah.

    • (TheOG)@Jan90067 says:

      Np 😊 Everyone has to do what they (and their doctors) think is good for you. If you ARE allergic, it won’t do you a bit of good, other than giving you a reaction (or worse!).

      Because I had a stem cell transplant, I couldn’t take a shingles shot (live vaccine). I am SO grateful they came out with the new, 2 dose one, that I can take. It’s also supposed to be a lot more effective, so yay! lol

      But yeah…of course you have to do what is good for YOUR health 😊

  10. Ali says:

    The flu is no joke. I’d never had the actual flu before last year and it is not like getting a bad cold. I was SO sick.

    I’m a believer in flu shots going forward because even if it only lessens my chances of getting the flu again by half, I’ll take it.

    • Kate says:

      omg the flu is awfullll. I got it a couple times in the past 10 years, including the swine flu in ’08 and wow. it’s definitely no enjoyable day off school/work. I’ve gotten the flu shot the past 6 years b/c seriously what do you have to lose? the needle is so tiny I’ve picked hangnails that hurt worse.

  11. Mo says:

    Pneumonia killed Jim Henson, if you are looking for more than close calls. That was a true loss.