Get The Facts About Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common type of bacterial pneumonia. The risk for pneumococcal pneumonia increases with age and certain chronic conditions.

Pneumococcal Pneumonia Fast Facts

Adults
48+

Adults 65 and older with chronic health conditions such as COPD, asthma, diabetes, and chronic heart disease face greater risk for pneumococcal pneumonia.

2.5x
Greater Risk

Adults 65+ are at 3.8x greater risk for pneumococcal pneumonia versus healthy adults aged 18–64.

Over
7x
More Likely

Adults 65+ are over 10x more likely to be hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia than adults aged 18-49.

What Is It & Who’s At Risk?

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious disease you shouldn't ignore. It can disrupt your life for weeks and even land you in the hospital.

The immune system naturally weakens with age, so even if you're healthy and active, being 65 or older is a key risk factor for pneumococcal pneumonia.

Other factors like certain chronic health conditions further increase pneumococcal pneumonia risk in adults 65 and older compared with healthy adults of same age. With each chronic condition your risk increases further.

Increased Risk
In adults 65+ with the following chronic conditions as compared to healthy adults 65+.
COPD7.7x
Asthma5.9x
Chronic Heart Disease3.8x
Diabetes2.8x

Causes & Transmission

Many people think pneumococcal pneumonia is a cold or the flu, but it’s not. Pneumococcal pneumonia is caused by bacteria that live in the upper respiratory tract, and it can spread to others through coughing or close contact.

Common Symptoms


High Fever


Excessive sweating and shaking chills


Coughing


Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain


Certain symptoms, such as cough and fatigue, can appear quickly and without warning. Severe cases of pneumococcal pneumonia have led to hospitalization and can even be life threatening.

Prevention

Pneumococcal pneumonia can strike anytime, anywhere. Vaccination can help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia. You can’t catch the disease from getting vaccinated, because pneumococcal vaccines do not contain a live virus or bacteria. The CDC recommends adults 65 or older talk to a healthcare provider about pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination, which is available at many doctor’s offices and local pharmacies.


Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about vaccination to help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia.

Now that you have the facts, learn more about your personal risk for pneumococcal pneumonia.

1
2
3

Your Risk Assessment

Answer these three questions to learn more about your risk.

While some health and lifestyle factors may increase your risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia, an important risk factor in adults is age—due in large part to the natural, age-related decline of the immune system.

Even if you are active and otherwise healthy, an important thing to remember is: If you're 65 or over, you may be at increased risk.

What is your age?

Please Select an Age Range

As we age, our immune systems aren’t as effective at fighting off infections and helping protect us from vaccine preventable disease.

Do you have any chronic conditions?

(e.g., diabetes, chronic heart disease, COPD, asthma, a weakened immune system)?

Please Indicate Chronic Conditions

In addition to age, certain chronic health conditions can make the body more vulnerable to serious illnesses such as pneumococcal pneumonia.

Do you smoke?

Please Indicate if You Smoke

Smoking damages fragile lung tissue, making lungs more vulnerable to infection.

3.4

Your Summary

Your age, health conditions, and smoking history can contribute to an increased risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Current Smoker

Common Chronic Conditions Increase Risk in Adults Aged 65+*

*Compared to healthy adults aged 65+, the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia increases even further with the presence of certain chronic conditions.

3.5

Your Summary

Your age and health conditions may put you at increased risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Chronic Conditions

Common Chronic Conditions Increase Risk in Adults Aged 65+*

*Compared to healthy adults aged 65+, the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia increases even further with the presence of certain chronic conditions.

3.6

Your Summary

Your age and smoking history may put you at increased risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Current Smoker
3.7

Your Summary

Although you haven't selected any health conditions or behavior choices that would increase your risk, age is still a key risk factor for pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Age
3.8

Your Summary

Although your age and health conditions are not risk factors, your smoking history may increase your risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Current Smoker
3.9

Your Summary

Although your age and behaviors are not risk factors, you have health conditions that may increase your risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Chronic Conditions

Common Chronic Conditions Increase Risk in Adults Aged 65+*

*Compared to healthy adults aged 65+, the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia increases even further with the presence of certain chronic conditions.

3.10

Your Summary

Although you're not currently in an elevated-risk age group, your health conditions and smoking history may put you at increased risk for pneumococcal pneumonia. So talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your risk factors and how vaccines may help protect you.

Your Risk Factors

  • Chronic Conditions
  • Current Smoker

Common Chronic Conditions Increase Risk in Adults Aged 65+*

*Compared to healthy adults aged 65+, the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia increases even further with the presence of certain chronic conditions.

3.11

Your Summary

Your answers to these three questions do not indicate that you are in an elevated risk group. If you have concerns, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist. And remember, even if you're otherwise healthy, it's always important to recognize your risks as you age.

Understanding Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Download a fact sheet to help understand symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia and how to help prevent the disease.

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.

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: October 27, 2021

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