1. Why get vaccinated?
Pneumococcal disease is a serious disease that causes sickness and death. In fact, pneumococcal disease is responsible for about 200 deaths each year among children under 5 years old.
Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States. (Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain). Each year pneumococcal disease causes many health problems in children under 5, including:
- over 700 cases of meningitis,
- 17,000 blood infections, and
- about 5 million ear infections.
Children under 2 years old are at highest risk for serious disease.
Pneumococcus bacteria are spread from person to person through close contact.
Pneumococcal infections can be hard to treat because the disease has become resistant to some of the drugs that have been used to treat it. This makes prevention of the disease even more important.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can prevent pneumococcal disease.
2. Pneumococcal vaccine
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is licensed for infants and toddlers. It is good at preventing pneumococcal disease among these children, and also helps stop the disease from spreading from person to person.
The vaccine's protection lasts at least 3 years. Since most serious pneumococcal infections strike children during their first 2 years, the vaccine will protect them when they are at greatest risk.
Some older children and adults may get a different vaccine called pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. There is a separate Vaccine Information Statement for people getting the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.