Streptococcus pneumoniae infection in the lung. (Image: Shutterstock)
Learn more about avoiding preventable bacterial pneumonias, especiallyif you are at high risk e.g. if you are over the age of 50 years or have an underlying chronic condition such as lung disease, diabetes or HIV.1-3
The bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae, can infect the upper airways causing sinusitis and otitis media (middle ear infection) but it can also invade deeper into the body to cause severe infections such as pneumonia (lung infection), septicaemia (blood infection) and meningitis (brain infection).4 These more invasive infections can have a high death rate, especially in developing countries.4 There are vaccines available that can help prevent pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, ear infections and invasive pneumococcal disease.2
Some reasons why it is important to consider vaccination include:
- Invasive pneumococcal disease can have a high death rate – up to 1 in 3 patients5
- Increasing resistance to commonly used antibiotics is a serious problem2
- It will help reduce the strain on the healthcare system, especially during a pandemic6
- It will alleviate some of the potential pandemic related death by decreasing the risk of an added bacterial infection6
- It will help keep you out of hospital, thereby reducing your exposure to other viruses and bacteria in the hospital6
Adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease include, but are not limited to:
- Those over the age of 50 years2
- Those with underlying chronic illnesses e.g. chronic lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease3
- Those who have a suppressed immune system e.g. HIV3
- Those who smoke or have excessive alcohol intakes3,5
Visit www.knowpneumo.co.za to learn more about pneumococcal disease.
The purpose of this article is not to provide medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for appropriate medical advice.
HIV = Human Immunodeficiency Virus
References: 1. World Health Organization. Immunization in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). [Online] 2020 Apr 16 [Cited 2020 Nov 25]. Available from: URL:https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/immunization-in-the-context-of-covid-19-pandemic. 2. World Health Organization. Pneumococcal vaccines: WHO position paper – 2012. Weekly Epidemiol Rec. 2012 Apr;84(14):129-144. 3. Michelin L, Weber FM, Scolari BW, Menezes BK, Gullo MC. Mortality and costs of pneumococcal pneumonia in adults: a cross-sectional study. J Bras Pneumol. 2019 Mar;45(6): e20180374. 4. World Health Organization. Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Surveillance Standards. Pneumococcus. [online] 2018 Sept 5 [cited 2020 Aug 18]. Available from: URL: https://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/vpd/WHO_SurveillanceVaccinePreventable_17_Pneumococcus_R2.pdf?ua=1. 5. Cucchiari D, Pericàs JM, Riera J, Gumucio R, Coloma E, Nicolás D, et al. Pneumococcal superinfection in COVID-19 patients: A series of 5 cases. Med Clin (Barc). 2020 May. https://doi.org/10.1016/j/medcli.2020.05.022. 6. Thindwa D, Quesada MG, Liu Y, Bennett J, Cohen C, Knoll MD, et al. Use of seasonal influenza and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines in older adults to reduce COVID-19 mortality. Vaccine. 2020Jun;38:5398-5401.
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