Who is most at risk?
Immunocompromised persons who are unable to mount an adequate immune response to pneumococcal capsular antigens, including those with asplenia, have the highest risk of IPD.1,2,4 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a disproportionately high burden of IPD.1,12,13
Vaccination is strongly recommended for groups at risk.
- IPD still causes serious illness and occasional deaths.
- By 2011 this had become much less common than it was before the widespread introduction of infant pneumococcal vaccine in 2005. However, several harmful strains of the pneumococcal germ continue to circulate and cause illness.
- The introduction of Prevenar 13® in 2011 is expected to provide protection against the most important of these remaining strains. Routine vaccination of children under the age of three is recommended.
People aged over 65 years
- Pneumococcal disease is an important cause of pneumonia in adults aged 65 years or older. The elderly are especially at risk of serious illness and death from this disease. The vaccine for adults, Pneumovax 23® is different from the infant vaccine.
People with underlying medical risk conditions
Adults and children with the following serious medical conditions are at a greater risk of life threatening infection and hospitalisation from pneumococcal disease:
- people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease
- people without a spleen or whose spleen does not work properly
- people with serious problems with their immune system.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 should be offered pneumococcal vaccine.