Alberta Health Services
Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria. It can lead to lung, airway, blood, and middle-ear infections and meningitis (an infection of the fluid and lining that cover the brain and spinal cord).
Pneumococcal disease is a common cause of bacterial blood infections and meningitis in young children, and bacterial pneumonia (a type of lung infection) in adults.
It causes 500,000 deaths worldwide each year in children under age 5 years. When adults with pneumococcal disease have an infection in their lungs and blood, as many as 1 in 14 could die. The risk of dying may be higher as you get older.
You’re most at risk of having a serious infection if:
Pneumococcal disease spreads through droplets of saliva (spit) and mucus when coughing, sneezing, kissing, and sharing things such as food or toys.
Even if you don’t have symptoms, you can still spread the disease.
There are vaccines that protect against pneumococcal disease:
Learn about Alberta’s routine immunization schedule and ask your healthcare provider what pneumococcal vaccines you or your child should have.
Some diseases that vaccines can prevent are more common in older adults, because your immune system may not respond as well as you get older. This puts you at a greater risk for certain diseases, including pneumococcal disease.
If you are age 65 years or older, you are also at higher risk of getting very sick from pneumococcal disease. This is why you need certain vaccines or doses (called a booster) as you get older.
Learn more about recommended vaccines for adults.