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Preventing pneumococcal disease

The very young, older adults and adults with certain illnesses need the protection of pneumococcal vaccines.

Pneumococcal vaccines offer protection from Streptococcus pneumoniae, a type of bacteria that can cause infections in many parts of the body, including the lungs, ears, sinuses, bloodstream and the covering of the brain.

Complications of pneumococcal infections can include hearing loss, permanent brain damage and death. These complications are especially common in infants and young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anyone at high risk for pneumococcal disease should be vaccinated, including:

  • Adults 65 and older.
  • People who smoke or who have asthma.
  • Anyone 2 years or older who has a long-term health problem such as heart disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease, alcoholism, chronic lung disease (including severe asthma), liver disease or leaks of cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Anyone 2 years or older who has a disease or condition that lowers the body's resistance to infection, such as Hodgkin's disease, kidney failure, nephrotic syndrome, damaged spleen or no spleen, organ transplant, lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma or HIV.
  • Anyone 2 years or older who is taking any drug or treatment that lowers the body's resistance to infection, such as long-term steroids or radiation therapy.

Reviewed 9/3/2020

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