3 Things To Know on World Pneumonia Day

Although many people do not realize how common or serious pneumonia can be, each year in the US, an estimated 150,000 people are hospitalized for pneumococcal pneumonia, and about 1 in 20 dies as a result.

Despite those sobering statistics, a recent national survey of US adults conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) found that only 22% are concerned about themselves or someone in their family getting infected with pneumonia. Among those who are at higher risk for pneumococcal disease, including older adults and people with asthma or other lung conditions, only about 40% have been advised to get a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine.

In support of World Pneumonia Day on November 12, NFID and the American Lung Association are working to raise awareness about pneumococcal disease and encourage those who are at risk to talk with a healthcare professional about pneumococcal vaccination. 

Here are 3 things to know on World Pneumonia Day:

  1. Anyone can get pneumonia, but some people are at higher risk. Those who can get very sick with pneumonia include young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, including lung disease, heart disease, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, sickle cell disease, or illnesses that weaken the immune system, such as HIV and certain cancers.
  2. Pneumonia can be serious. Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a general feeling of weakness. Complications from pneumonia can include respiratory failure, sepsis, and even death. The death rate is higher among adults age 65 years and older. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for serious pneumococcal infections.
  3. Vaccines can help prevent pneumonia and protect against pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal vaccination is recommended for young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions or other risk factors.

“Pneumonia is serious and can be deadly. When you get your annual flu vaccine or updated COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to ask about pneumococcal vaccines,” said NFID Medical Director Robert H. Hopkins, Jr., MD. “Vaccines can help prevent serious diseases and by getting vaccinated as recommended, we can protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.”

“Even healthy adults over 65 years are at increased risk for pneumococcal pneumonia, because the body’s immune system naturally weakens with age. In addition, unlike seasonal respiratory infections like influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia can happen any time of the year, so it is important for those at greater risk to be protected,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association. “Fortunately, pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines are available to help prevent the disease.”

For details on who should receive pneumococcal vaccines and when, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About Pneumococcal Disease

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae) that can attack different parts of the body. When these bacteria invade the lungs, they can cause pneumonia; when they invade the bloodstream, they can cause sepsis; and when they invade the lining of the brain, they can cause meningitis. These serious conditions often require hospitalization and can lead to death.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating and engaging the public, communities, and healthcare professionals about infectious diseases across the lifespan. NFID has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and has earned a Platinum transparency seal from Candid/GuideStar. For more information, visit www.nfid.org/pneumococcal. #PreventPneumo

About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on 4 strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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