Oprah urging flu shot after ‘very serious’ pneumonia – and how to avoid a costly trip to the ER

Oprah has some timely health advice: Get your flu shot.

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The queen of all media revealed in a clip from  “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday that she was recently “very sick” with pneumonia, and stressed to fans they should take it very seriously.

“Don’t play with it, get your flu shots. Get your pneumonia shots. It’s nothing to play with. It takes people out. But I’m telling you, it changed the way I look at wellness," she told DeGeneres.

Winfrey, 65, who said she felt “a little rattling” in her chest, got sick after a trip overseas and thought she had a cold only to end up in the emergency room where doctors told her she had pneumonia. The media mogul revealed she was on antibiotics for week, but when they didn’t relieve her symptoms she went back into the hospital for a CT scan, which resulted in a trip to a lung specialist.

Winfrey is the latest in a number of celebrities who have been diagnosed with the infection, which occurs when lungs become infected with bacteria or viruses that cause them to become inflamed. Symptoms include a cough, fever, chills and difficulty breathing. “TODAY” anchor Savannah Guthrie was absent from the show earlier this month for contracting a case of pneumonia. And Whoopi Goldberg had the infection in both lungs, she revealed in March, after her absence on “The View.” She said it was near-deadly: “I came very close to leaving this earth,” she said.

Savannah Guthrie was also out sick earlier this month when she told fans she had pneumonia. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for THR)

The vaping health crisis has also been linked to repertory illnesses in recent weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 450 people from 33 states that have been affected by mysterious cases of pneumonia linked to e-cigarettes.

Whoopi Goldberg said she "came very close from leaving this earth" after suffering with pneumonia earlier this year. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Take caution if you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain associated with breathing, a persistent cough and an unrelenting fever, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency care physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City told FOX Business.

“If you’re coughing up mucus, phlegm with any blood mixed in, have a fever, it’s vital to seek care in an emergency department,” Glatter urged.

CDC data indicate that nearly 1 million people get hospitalized for pneumonia, and what’s worse, 50,000 people die from it.

Pneumonia can result in a costly trip to urgent care or the emergency room which can range anywhere from $150 to $3,000 depending on how severe the symptoms are.

To reduce the risk of developing the infection, Glatter advises washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. He also suggests strengthening your immune system by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and exercising. Getting vaccines against diseases that might lead to pneumonia, like the flu, are also options, he said.

“Beginning antibiotics and antiviral medications in a timely fashion can be lifesaving in the setting of possible pneumonia,” Glatter said.

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