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Immunizations - Pneumonia

What is Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

Pneumococcal disease is a serious disease that cause much sickness and death. It’s a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumonia and when these bacteria invade the lungs, they cause the most common kind of bacterial pneumonia and can then invade the bloodstream (bacteremia) and/or the tissues and fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).

The vaccine prevents 23 types of  “strep” infection – including pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis that can cause death or serious health problems, particularly in older adults.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Pneumococcal pneumonia (begins with high fever, cough, and stabbing chest pains), bacteremia, and meningitis

This infection kills thousands of people in the United States each year, most of them under two years of age or over 65 years. Over half a million cases of pneumonia and 60,000 deaths were reported in 2002. 

How do you get it?
Pneumococcus is in many people's noses and throats. Why it suddenly invades the body and causes disease is unknown.

 How to prevent it?
Pneumococcal vaccine is very good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However it is not guaranteed to prevent all symptoms in all people.

As an adult, do I need it?
You should get the pneumococcal vaccine if:

  • You are 65 years old or older.
  • You have a serious long-term health problem such as heart disease, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, leaks of cerebrospinal fluid, lung disease (not including asthma), diabetes, or liver cirrhosis.
  • Your resistance to infection is lowered due to Hodgkin's disease; multiple myeloma; cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs; treatment with long-term steroids; bone marrow or organ transplant; kidney failure; HIV/AIDS; lymphoma, leukemia, or other cancers; nephrotic syndrome; damaged spleen or no spleen.
  • You are an Alaskan Native or from certain Native American populations.

How Do Vaccines Work
Immunization (vaccination) is a way to trigger your immune system and prevent serious, life-threatening diseases. Immunization exposes you to a very small, very safe amount of the most important diseases you are likely to encounter at some point in your life.

This mild exposure helps your immune system recognize and attack the disease efficiently. If you are exposed to the full-blown disease later in life, you will either not become infected or have a much less serious infection. This is a natural way to deal with infectious diseases.

2024 American Association for Respiratory Care