Although the incidence of pneumococcal disease among adolescents is the lowest of any age group, about 6.8 million children and adolescents age 2 to 18 years have chronic illnesses―diabetes or chronic heart, lung, liver, or kidney disorders―that place them at high risk for pneumococcal disease and related complications.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by common 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 covering of the brain, they can cause meningitis. The bacteria can also cause middle ear infection (otitis media) and sinusitis.
Who Should Be Vaccinated and Which Pneumococcal Vaccines Do They Need?
- All children under age 2 years should receive 4 doses of PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
- Healthy children, age 2-4 years who are unvaccinated or who did not complete the recommended series should also receive PCV13
- Parents of children age 2 through 18 years with certain medical conditions should speak to a healthcare professional to determine which pneumococcal vaccines their child needs:
- Lung, heart, liver, or kidney disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, or damaged/absent spleen
- Cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
Impact of Pneumococcal Disease and Influenza
Protection against pneumococcal disease is especially important during influenza (flu) season because pneumococcal infection can be a serious complication of flu. Adolescents with underlying medical conditions that place them at increased risk of pneumococcal disease should talk to a healthcare professional about recommended vaccines to help protect them.
Read more about pneumococcal disease and children.
Updated January 2022
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention