Pneumococcal bacteria cause infections of the lung, middle ear, bloodstream, or lining of the brain (meningitis). About one out of 20 people with pneumococcal disease will die from it. Pneumococcal disease is spread by close contact with persons who are ill or who carry the bacteria in their nose or throat.
Vaccines are available for many common types of pneumococcal bacteria. These vaccines are recommended for infants, young children, adults age 65 years and older, and persons ages 19-64 who are at high-risk for pneumococcal disease, because they smoke cigarettes, or have asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or compromised immune systems.