Getting a Pneumococcal Vaccination

Getting a Pneumococcal Vaccination

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Pneumococcal Vaccination

The pneumococcal vaccination protects people against pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae). This germ is easily spread when someone with the bacteria coughs, sneezes, laughs, or talks. You can get pneumococcal disease more than once. This is because there are many different types (strains) of the bacteria. Some strains are also resistant to treatment with antibiotics.

There are different kinds of pneumococcal disease depending on what part of the body is infected, they include:

  • Pneumonia. Infection in the lungs.

  • Meningitis. Infection of the tissues that cover the brain.

  • Otitis media. Infection of the middle ear.

  • Bacteremia or septicemia. Infection in the blood.

Pneumococcal disease can be life-threatening, especially for people in high-risk groups. Each year, thousands of people die of this disease and thousands more become seriously ill.

The vaccine

Healthcare provider preparing to give injection in woman's upper arm.

The pneumococcal vaccine is the best way to avoid pneumococcal disease. It is safe and effective. The vaccine is given in the form of a shot (injection). This can be done at your health care provider's office or a health clinic. Drugstores, senior centers, and workplaces often offer vaccinations, too. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, ask your health care provider.

The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for:

  • Persons 65 and older

  • Infants

  • People with chronic health problems (such as diabetes, chronic lung or heart disease, liver disease); or who have a cochlear implant

  • People who have weakened immune systems

  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities

  • People who smoke or have asthma

It is given:

  • In a 4-dose series in infants

  • One time in adults, some people need a second dose

Your health care provider can tell you more about the vaccine, whether you should get it, and the number of shots you should receive.