Pneumococci are a group of bacteria that multiply in the nose and throat. Typically, the disease causes sinus and middle ear infections, but in some cases it can be far more dangerous.
Dangerous Pneumococcal infections (called Invasive Pneumococcal) are more likely to affect infants, toddlers, and the elderly, though there are other risk factors. You are at an even higher risk for Pneumococcal if you are an African-American, Native American, Eskimo, diabetic, or have an immune deficiency. Every year, the bacterial infection progresses into meningitis, bacteremia, or pneumonia.
Every year, 1,400 cases of meningitis develop from Pneumococcal. Meningitis is a bacterial infection that attacks the lining of the brain and spinal cord. 17,000 yearly cases of bacteremia (a serious blood infection) follow a Pneumococcal diagnosis.
71,000 cases of pneumonia (an infection of the lungs) occur from Pneumococcal occur each year. More than five million ear infections are reported as well. These statistics only count the cases diagnosed and reported in the United States.
There is a vaccine available to prevent against this troublesome disease. It is suggested that every man and woman aged sixty-five and older receive the vaccine for Pneumococcal. Those in the specific high-risk category should also be vaccinated.
The 23-valent PS vaccine is given once with boosters every five years. The other vaccinations are given as a series of four shots spaced two months apart. The vaccine proves to be between 57 and 75% effective depending on the age group and health factors.
Side effects include soreness and swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, and irritability. In rare cases (1 out of 10,000) allergic reactions to the ingredients may occur. It is essential to tell your health professional of any allergies you may have.
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