Pneumococcal Polysaccharide VIS (Updated 4/24/2015)

What You Need to Know

Why get vaccinated?

Vaccination can protect older adults (and some children and younger adults) from pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that can spread from person to person through close contact. It can cause ear infections, and it can also lead to more serious infections of the:

  • Lungs (pneumonia),
  • Blood (bacteremia), and
  • Covering of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Meningitis can cause deafness and brain damage, and it can be fatal.
  • Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years of age, people with certain medical conditions, adults over 65 years of age, and cigarette smokers are at the highest risk.

About 18,000 older adults die each year from pneumococcal disease in the United States. Treatment of pneumococcal infections with penicillin and other drugs used to be more effective. But some strains of the disease have become resistant to these drugs. This makes prevention of the disease, through vaccination, even more important.

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