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Who is at highest risk for suffering complications from Pneumococcal?

Updated May 04, 2024

Image source: CDC PHIL

Individuals with chronic illnesses such as COPD, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are at higher risk of acquiring pneumococcal disease and suffering from complications related to the disease. Additionally, the inhaled medications (corticosteroids and anti-cholinergics) used to treat these medical conditions increases both the risk of invasive pneumococcal disease and the risk of complications and death from the illness. 

The risk of respiratory and cardiac complications—both of which are associated with increased mortality—is greater among individuals with chronic lung and/or heart diseases. Additional risk factors of mortality after hospitalization for invasive pneumococcal disease include:  

  • coexisting chronic conditions
  • re-hospitalization within 30 days of hospital discharge, and
  • Residing in a nursing home.

In adults hospitalized for invasive pneumococcal disease, risk factors for respiratory failure included:  

  • Age of 50 years and older
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Coronary heart disease, and
  • Infection with serotype 3, 19A or 19F.

Current smokers hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia have a five-fold increased risk of 30-day mortality from the disease when compared with non-smokers and ex-smokers. 

Five and a half percent of non-hospitalized children will develop long-term major respiratory consequences from pneumonia of any type and the risk is three times higher among children hospitalized with disease. 

One out of 30 children with bacteremia or sepsis (blood infection) will die from it. The risk of death from pneumococcal bacteremia is also higher among elderly people. It is estimated that one out of every 12 children under five who develop pneumococcal meningitis will die from the infection. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Pneumococcal and the Pneumococcal vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.


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