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Who is at highest risk for getting Pneumococcal?

Updated May 04, 2024

Image source: CDC PHIL

Pneumococcal disease can affect anyone; however, some people may be at a greater risk for the disease. Risk factors include age and certain pre-existing medical conditions.  Persons 65 years of age and older are most at risk of disease. 

Persons between the age of 19 and 64 considered at high-risk of pneumococcal disease include: 

  • Smokers
  • Chronic alcoholics
  • Persons with chronic illness such as lung, heart, kidney, or liver disease
  • Individuals with asthma
  • Diabetics
  • Persons who are immunocompromised (ie HIV positive)
  • Individuals with cancer
  • Persons without a functioning spleen
  • Individuals with a cochlear implant or cerebrospinal leak
  • Persons living in a nursing home, group home, or other long-term care facility.

Adults living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, COPD, and chronic heart disease are at risk for developing invasive pneumococcal disease at any time during the year. 

Children considered most at risk for developing invasive pneumococcal disease include young children under two and those who attend child care in a group setting. Additionally, children with cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid leaks, chronic lung, health, kidney, or liver disease, sickle cell disease, and those with immunocompromising conditions are also considered to be at high risk for invasive disease. 

Higher rates of pneumococcal disease have also been found among African Americans, Alaskan Natives, and certain American Native groups. 

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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