Talk to Patients About: Pneumococcal Disease
By Sean Price Texas Medicine June 2018

Your patients might not have heard of pneumococcal bacteria, but they probably know some of its serious conditions: Pneumonia, meningitis, sinusitis, blood infections, and ear infections. 

The disease causes many life-threatening illnesses in kids and adults.

The most severe of these illnesses is pneumonia. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 900,000 Americans contract it each year, and about 5 to 7 percent of those sick enough to be hospitalized die from it. 

In 2013, 3,700 Americans died from pneumococcal meningitis and bacteremia, and most pneumococcal deaths are among adults. Worldwide, about 500,000 children younger than 5 die from pneumococcal illnesses each year, making it one of the top killers of young people, according to the World Health Organization.  

In the 1940s, physicians believed antibiotics could cure pneumococcal bacterial infections, so there was little call for a vaccine. But some people still died after treatment.

The first vaccine was introduced in 1977, but it did not adequately protect children. However, a childhood vaccine introduced in 2000 has caused a nearly 80-percent drop in invasive pneumococcal disease among U.S. children.

There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines, so each month Texas Medicine highlights a disease that can be prevented by childhood and adult immunizations. The material is designed to help you talk to your patients, and to help them understand the benefits of vaccines.


Click here for a printable version of the infographic below

 June 18 TM Vaccines_Pneumococcal

Tex Med. 2018;114(6):48
June 2018 Texas Medicine Contents
Texas Medicine Main Page

Last Updated On

July 02, 2019

Originally Published On

May 21, 2018

Related Content

Immunization | Public Health

Sean Price


(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

More stories by Sean Price