Pneumococcal vaccination

Pneumonia and blood poisoning caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, pneumococcus, endanger many lives every year. As with influenza, there is a vaccine for pneumococcal disease.

People can get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease regardless of age and time of year, as pneumococcal disease does not have a specific season. Getting the pneumococcal disease does not give immunity against the pneumococcal bacteria. Even those who have already had the disease once should get vaccinated.

In Finland, pneumococcal vaccines are not yet part of the national vaccination programme for adults. The matter was discussed in the Finnish Government’s budget proposal for 2020.

At the moment, free pneumococcal vaccines are available to children under 5 years of age, stem cell transplant recipients, people under 75 years of age suffering from severe kidney disease, and COPD patients aged 65–74. Other people can get the pneumococcal vaccine at their own cost. Here’s what you should do if you want to get the vaccine:

  • Ask your physician for a prescription for the vaccine.
  • Pick up the vaccine from the pharmacy.
  • Book a vaccination appointment at your health centre.

Pneumococcal bacteria can cause various illnesses, such as upper respiratory tract infection, meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis. The vaccine reduces the risk of severe pneumococcal disease by approximately 75%.

After vaccination, the body creates antibodies to pneumococcal bacteria within a few days. The body will reach full protection within a few weeks of getting vaccinated. The vaccine is only taken once, and it is considered to remain effective for the rest of the person’s life.

Risk groups include young children, elderly people over the age of 65, and many people with chronic health conditions. The vaccine is recommended to people suffering from chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, rheumatism, and immunodeficiency.

What are pneumococcal bacteria?

Streptococcus pneumoniae, pneumococcus, are bacteria transmitted by droplets and direct contact. Their origin is not always known. For some healthy people, the bacteria do not cause any symptoms or illness, while others can get seriously ill. The danger is real, especially for those belonging to risk groups.