Pneumococcal Disease

What are the symptoms of Pneumococcal Disease?

Pneumococcal Disease is caused by the Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria. There are many different types of S. pneumonia, but only a few can cause serious health problems. Many people carry these bacteria in their noses and throats without getting sick. A healthy immune system stops the infection from moving from the throat to other parts of the body.

In some cases, S.pneumonia can overcome the immune system, leading to an infection of the inner ear (otitis media), lungs (pneumonia), blood (septicemia), or the lining of the brain (meningitis).

The symptoms of pneumococcal infection depend on the type of infection. Common symptoms for most types of pneumococcal infection include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache

Other symptoms can include coughing, breathing problems, chest pain, earache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, stiff neck, and seizures. These symptoms depend on the type of pneumococcal infection someone has.

How can I get Pneumococcal Disease?

S. pneumonia spreads in respiratory droplets resulting from coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact. It can also spread as a result of sharing food, beverages, cigarettes, lipstick, water bottles, sports mouth guards, and mouthpieces for musical instruments.

Anyone can get Pneumococcal Disease, but certain groups are at higher risk of serious complications. These include children under the age of two and people over the age of 65. People whose immune systems have been weakened as a result of smoking, taking certain medications, or having certain diseases are also at increased risk.

Where can I get Pneumococcal Disease?

You can get Pneumococcal Disease anywhere.

What vaccines are available for Pneumococcal Disease?

There are two vaccines available for Pneumococcal Disease, Pneumococcal-23 and Pnemococcal-13 (also known as Prevnar-13, and PCV-13).

In British Columbia, Pneumococcal-23 vaccine is available without charge to people aged 65 or older or who have have a high-risk medical condition.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV 13) protects against infection from 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Because it provides enhanced antibody response and better immune memory, PCV 13 has been shown to be significantly more effective than the Pneumococcal-23 vaccine. PVC-13 is licensed in BC for adults over age 50.

How many shots will I need?

You will need one dose of pneumococcal vaccine.

Will I need a booster?

Most people do not need a booster for pneumococcal vaccine.

How can I prevent Pneumococcal Disease?

Immunization is the single best way to prevent Pneumococcal Disease. You should not get the vaccine if you:

  • Have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose or to any component of the vaccine, including Diphtheria toxoid.
  • Are under age 50. PCV13 is licensed for adults 50 yrs. and available for purchase.
  • Have previously received Pneumococcal-23 vaccination. A minimum 5-year interval is recommended before you receive PVC13.

What is the treatment for Pneumococcal Disease?

Pneumococcal Disease is treated with antibiotics; however, some strains of S. pneumoniae have emerged that are resistant to antibiotics. This makes prevention of Pneumococcal Disease through vaccination even more important.