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Pneumococcal Disease Myths and Facts

Myth:

Pneumococcal disease is not common nor serious.

Fact:

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

Myth:

Everyone who is a 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 getting sick from it.

Myth:

Adults older than age 65 are the only people particularly susceptible to pneumococcal disease.

Fact:

Anyone can get pneumococcal disease. In addition to adults age 65 years and older, high-risk groups include individuals with certain chronic health conditions, with conditions that weaken the immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer, or damaged/absent spleen), with cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks, and those who smoke cigarettes. In addition, children under age 2 years and those with certain illnesses are at increased risk.

 

Updated September 2020

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Additional Resources

Pneumococcal Infographic

What do they all have in common? Adults living with certain chronic health conditions are all at increased risk for a serious infection called pneumococcal disease