Pneumonia is the world’s leading infectious killer of children under age 5, despite being preventable with vaccination. The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for all children younger than 5 and for all adults 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaccine not only protects against the most common type of pneumonia, but also against meningitis and blood infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria.
Dallas infectious disease physician Ed Dominguez, MD, a member of TMA’s Be Wise ― ImmunizeSM Physician Advisory Panel, stresses the importance of getting vaccinated against diseases like pneumonia to his patients. He says even though these vaccines might not cover all strains of the disease, they help guard against life-threatening complications.
“The vaccines for influenza and pneumonia are effective in preventing severe complications, like death, from these diseases, although mild infections may still occur,” he says. “When a person notes that he still contracted the flu after receiving a flu vaccine, I always respond, ‘See? It worked, because you survived to tell me about it!’ ”
(The flu vaccine also helps protect against pneumonia, because severe cases of influenza infection can lead to pneumonia.)
Pneumonia is a devastating disease, but it is preventable through vaccination. For more about World Pneumonia Day, visit stoppneumonia.org.