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There are 2 pneumococcal vaccinations that protect people against pneumococcal disease.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by 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 covering of the brain and spinal cord.
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. Thousands more become seriously ill.
The pneumococcal vaccines are the best way to avoid pneumococcal disease. They are safe and effective. The vaccines are given as shots (injections). This can be done at your healthcare provider's office or a health clinic. Drugstores, senior centers, and workplaces often offer vaccinations, too. If you have questions, ask your healthcare provider.
The pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for:
Persons 65 and older
People with chronic health problems (such as diabetes, chronic lung or heart disease, liver disease)
People 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
They are given:
In a 4-dose series in infants
One time in adults; some people need a second dose of one of the vaccines
Your healthcare provider can tell you more about the vaccines, whether you should get them, and the number of shots you should get.
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