Protection against pneumococci: so that grandmother and grandfather do not get pneumonia

Berlin (ots) – At least one equally important vaccine is regularly forgotten about the annual discussions on vaccines for flu protection: against pneumonia. The insurance company Verkehrsbau Union (BKK VBU) draws attention to this. A flu infection is especially dangerous for older people, because in the course of the disease it can lead to complications such as bacterial pneumonia.

Vaccination protection is a problem, especially for older people: from 60 years of age there is a growing risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia. The vaccine reduces the risk of infection and life-threatening complications. Because infrequent infections with pneumococci are a difficult process – every tenth person dies from the consequences. People with a weakened immune system are at particular risk. That is why vaccination is so important for older people: because with aging the body's immune system decreases.

What are pneumococci?

Pneumococci are bacteria of the streptococcus family. They can cause various diseases – for example sinusitis, middle ear or meningitis and blood poisoning. Experts estimate that 20 to 50 percent of all bacterial pneumonia is on their account. Pneumococci settle in the nasopharyngeal space and are transmitted from person to person during coughing or sneezing. It is treacherous that even healthy people pass on the pathogen: everyone can become a "host" without becoming ill themselves and unconsciously become a danger of infection for others. Vaccination is thus practically the only way to effectively prevent a pneumococcal infection.

Why some people get pneumococci and not others, is not known. It is clear that the general defensive situation plays a decisive role. Anyone who has just had a viral disease – a flu or even an innocent cold – is vulnerable. Chronic diseases of the heart or lung, diabetes requiring treatment and certain neurological disorders also increase the risk of getting infected with pneumococci. In short, bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. However, more and more pathogens are developing resistance, so that preventive vaccine protection is becoming increasingly important.

From the age of 60, the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) advises all adults to receive a pneumococcal vaccine. The costs are borne by BKK VBU. The vaccine PPSV23, which is made from sugars from the bacterial envelope, protects against 23 of the most common types of pneumococci. Immunity does not last long. However, a second vaccination is only recommended for patients with immunodeficiencies because the protective effect decreases from time to time. In addition, vaccination reactions – such as redness or swelling at the injection site, fever, head, muscle and joint pain – become more severe with every new vaccination.

Press contact:

Ellen Zimmermann
press officer
Politics and business communication
Lindenstraße 67, 10969 Berlin
Phone: (0 30) 7 26 12 – 13 15

Original content by: BKK VBU, broadcast by news aktuell