We are acutely aware that it is easier to prevent a lung infection than it is to treat it.1 This is especially true for those with chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD who are at higher risk for complications from lung infections.2 According to the CDC, vaccination is one of the most effective ways to help protect yourself against infectious diseases.3 During World Immunization Week, we are sharing more information about another potentially serious lung disease: pneumococcal pneumonia.

There are many types of pneumonia, and the most common type of bacterial pneumonia is called pneumococcal pneumonia.4 Common symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include high fever, excessive sweating and shaking chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain.5 Certain symptoms, such as cough and fatigue, can appear without warning and may last for weeks, or longer.6 In severe cases, it can put you in the hospital and even be life-threatening.3,4

“Even if you live an active and healthy lifestyle, if you are 65 or older you may be at greater risk for pneumococcal pneumonia2,” said MeiLan Han, M.D., M.S., Director of the Michigan Airways Program and American Lung Association volunteer medical spokesperson. “That's because your immune system naturally weakens with age, making it harder to fight off infections.2,7 Some risk factors, including tobacco use, and chronic conditions such as COPD, asthma, heart disease and diabetes, may also increase your risk for pneumococcal pneumonia.2

Knowing the facts is the best way to stay prepared.

  1. Pneumococcal pneumonia is caused by bacteria that live in the respiratory tract and can be spread through coughing or close contact.2
  2. Even healthy adults aged 65 or older are over 10x more likely to be hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia than those aged 18-49.8
  3. If you have diabetes, COPD, asthma, heart disease or if you smoke cigarettes—you’re at even greater risk for pneumococcal pneumonia.2 Getting vaccinated can help protect you from contracting it. The CDC recommends adults 65 and older talk to a doctor or pharmacist about getting vaccinated to help protect against pneumococcal pneumonia.4

The American Lung Association, in partnership with Pfizer, developed a quiz that allows you to understand your risk for pneumococcal pneumonia. Get all the facts at Lung.org/pneumococcal. If you’re at risk, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination.  

Developed by the American Lung Association in partnership with Pfizer Inc. 

The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient. The American Lung Association does not endorse products, devices or services. This content is intended Only for U.S. residents.

PP-PNA-USA-4539 © 2021 Pfizer Inc. All rights reserved. April 2021


[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumonia can be prevented—vaccines can help. Updated October 22, 2020. Accessed March 30, 2021. http://www.cdc.gov/features/pneumonia/.

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumococcal Disease. Risk Factors and Transmission. Web site. September 1, 2020. Accessed March 31, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/risk-transmission.html.

[iii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumococcal disease.  and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book).  February 2021. Accessed March 30, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/pneumo.html

[iv] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pneumococcal Disease. Fast Facts. Accessed March 30, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/facts.html

[v] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pneumococcal Disease. Risk Factors and Transmission. Web site. Accessed March 30, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/risk-transmission.html

[vi] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumococcal disease: symptoms and complications. Web site. September 1, 2020. Accessed March 30, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/about/symptoms-complications.html.

[vii] Delves PJ. Effects of aging on the immune system. MerckManuals.com Web site. April 2020. Accessed March 30, 2021. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/immune-disorders/biology-of-the-immune-system/effects-of-aging-on-the-immune-system.

[viii] Ramirez JA, Wiemken TL, Peyrani P, et al. Adults hospitalized with pneumonia in the United States: incidence, epidemiology and mortality. Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(11):1806-1812. doi: 10.1093/cid/cix647. Accessed March 30, 2021.

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