Pneumococcal Disease Myths and Facts for Consumers

Myth:

Pneumococcal disease is not common or serious.

Fact:

Pneumococcal disease is a very serious illness, with resulting infections being the most common cause of invasive bacterial infection in American children. Invasive pneumococcal disease kills thousands of people in the United States each year, most of them 65 years of age or older.

Myth:

Everybody who is carrier of the bacteria causing pneumococcal disease will get sick from it.

Fact:

It is common for people, especially children, to carry the bacteria in their throats without being ill from it.

Myth:

If you're over 65 years of age, you need to get a pneumococcal vaccine every year.

Fact:

A single dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for most persons 65 years or older.

Myth:

People over 65 are the only people particularly susceptible to pneumococcal disease.

Fact:

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease. In addition to persons 65 and older, high-risk groups include individuals with weak immune systems, sickle cell disease, as well as Alaskan Natives, certain American Indian populations and residents of chronic or long-term care facilities. Further, children under 2 years of age who live in group care settings and those with certain illnesses are at higher risk than other children.