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Many At Risk For Pneumococcal Disease Are Unaware

November 12, 2019
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Who is at risk for pneumococcal disease?
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Who is at risk for pneumococcal disease?

BETHESDA, Md., Nov. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly one million US adults get pneumococcal pneumonia each year, yet a recent survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) found that 46 percent of high-risk individuals were unfamiliar with pneumococcal disease.

Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis (bloodstream infection), which can lead to severe complications. Up to 400,000 hospitalizations occur each year from pneumococcal pneumonia in the US, and more than 20,000 of those hospitalized will die. The death rate is even higher for adults age 65 years and older.

In support of World Pneumonia Day on November 12, NFID is working to raise awareness about pneumococcal disease and encourage individuals at risk to talk to a healthcare professional about pneumococcal vaccines.

Pneumococcal vaccines can help prevent the disease and are recommended for routine use in children, adults age 65 years and older, and those age 19 to 64 years with certain chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes. Despite the immunization recommendations, the NFID survey found that nearly 60 percent of high-risk individuals report that they have never been advised to get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, and 70 percent of individuals at high-risk for pneumococcal disease said they were not planning to get vaccinated.

“Pneumococcal disease is serious and can be deadly. For those concerned about vaccine side effects, it is important to remember that, other than soreness at the injection site, there really isn’t any notable side effect with pneumococcal vaccines,” said NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD. “There has been extensive research supporting the safety of pneumococcal vaccines. So if your healthcare professional recommends it, get vaccinated. Vaccination is our best tool to prevent disease.”

NFID commissioned the survey to better understand beliefs about influenza (flu) and pneumococcal disease, as well as attitudes and practices around vaccination. The survey included 1,002 complete responses—916 via the web and 86 via telephone—with US adults age 18 years and older representing 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“Flu season is the perfect time to have a conversation with your healthcare professional about pneumococcal disease, because both vaccines can be given at the same time,” said Dr. Schaffner. “Pneumococcal disease is a common and deadly complication of flu. Vaccines can help prevent both diseases.”

About Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of serious illness throughout the world. It is caused by a common type of bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) or pneumococcus, which can attack different parts of the body. Bacteria can spread through droplets in the air when a person with the infection coughs or sneezes.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan. For additional information, visit www.nfid.org/pneumococcal. #PreventPneumo

Contact Information:
Diana Olson
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
dolson@nfid.org
(301) 656-0003 x140

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SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases