Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes or with contact from respiratory secretions.
You may hear pneumococcal disease referred to as pneumonia and the vaccination called the pneumonia shot.
Pneumococcal disease can cause serious infections in the lungs, blood and brain which can lead to death. Pneumococcal disease also causes up to half of all ear infections.
Providers treat pneumococcal disease with antibiotics, but even infections treated early can lead to scarring of the lungs or problems with the brain.
The bacteria has developed resistance to some antibiotics.
The very old, very young and those with heart or lung disease are most at risk, although anyone can get pneumococcal disease.
The vaccine covers the strains most likely to cause severe disease.
Children should receive four doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. The first dose should be given at 2 months of age.
Adults 65 years and older are recommended to receive two types of pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13 and PPSV23). They will be given at least 6 months apart. Your provider may decide to vaccinate adults under 65 years of age if they feel you are at increased risk.