Copd

5 Things You Should Know About Pneumococcal Disease


Kip Adams, Vice President of Corporate Relations, COPD Foundation

This article has been updated on August 30, 2021


Patients living with COPD work hard every day at something most of us take for granted—breathing. As fundamental as life itself, the effort it takes for some of our patients to take their next breath can be hard to watch. One of the greatest risks for patients with COPD is contracting a disease that impacts the lungs, such as pneumococcal disease.

Some estimates show that as many of 1/3 of adults aged 18-64 have a chronic medical condition that increases their risk for contracting pneumococcal disease. That is why it is critical that we educate patients about prevention and ways to keep their disease from worsening.

We are working hard to educate our members about the risks of contracting pneumococcal disease—and why and how they must do everything they can to avoid contracting it. The number one way for anyone at risk for the disease to avoid it is to be vaccinated. Older adults living with COPD and other chronic conditions need to talk to their health care provider in order to ensure they are protected.

Here are five things you should know:

  • Pneumococcal disease is easy to catch, but often hard to get rid of—and it can have long term effects on the health of those living with COPD—causing acute exacerbations.
  • Those living with a second chronic condition increase their risk contracting pneumococcal disease even further. Doctors need to know of all your medical conditions.
  • It is recommended that adults age 65+ are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, but adults aged 19-64 with risk factors such as COPD, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
  • Vaccines are the best tool at preventing pneumococcal disease and adults with chronic conditions should be vaccinated to protect their short and long term health.
  • More than one vaccine is available to prevent the spread of pneumococcal disease—ask your doctor which is right for you.

The serious nature of pneumococcal disease for our patients cannot be underestimated. Often, what COPD patients think is a slight cold, can turn gravely serious, very quickly. It’s imperative that our patients—especially adults—get vaccinated against the disease.

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