Pneumococcal Disease in Adults and the Vaccines to Prevent It

Pneumococcal disease in adults can range from mild
to serious, and can sometimes be deadly. Two types of
vaccines provide protection against this disease.Talk to your
doctor to see if they recommend these or any other vaccines
for you.

What is pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal disease is a term used for a wide range of infections caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), including:

• Ear infections
• Sinus infections
• Pneumonia (lung infection)
• Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
• Meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)
• Sepsis (the body’s extreme response to an infection)

picture of a logo

What are the symptoms of pneumococcal disease?

Symptoms depend on the part of the body the bacteria are affecting. For sinus and ear infections, symptoms are usually relatively mild, such as:


Ear pain


Sore Throat

For pneumonia, bloodstream infections, meningitis, and sepsis, you can also have more severe symptoms, including:

Fever or Chills



Stiff Neck

Rapid or Difficult Breathing

Increased pain when looking at bright lights

Chest Pain

Confusion or low alertness

How do doctors diagnose and treat pneumococcal disease?

Early diagnosis and treatment are very important for serious pneumococcal infections.

Diagnosis depends on which type of infection a doctor thinks a patient may have. For meningitis or bloodstream infections, doctors will collect samples of cerebrospinal fluid or blood and send them to a laboratory for testing. Doctors can also use a urine test to diagnose some cases of pneumonia. For illnesses like ear and sinus infections, doctors usually diagnose them based on history, symptoms, and a physical exam. Doctors can treat pneumococcal disease with antibiotics.

doctor with patient
MLK Event Survey, Please fill out the form!