What is Pneumo?

Pneumo, or Pneumococcal disease, is a major cause of illness and death in Ireland, particularly among the very young, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system.1

Pneumo is caused by a common bacterium, Streptoccocus pneumoniae, which can attack different parts of the body.1

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    of people in Ireland
    are unaware that
    Pneumococcal disease is
    vaccine preventable2

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Pneumo infection can cause serious problems like sinus, ear, lung, blood and brain infections.1,3

icon of nose to show sinus infection


(sinus infection)
icon of ear to show ear infection

Otitis Media

(ear infection)
icon of lungs to show lung infection


(lung infection)
icon of drop of blood to show blood infection


(blood infection)
icon of brain to show brain infection


(brain infection)

Invasive pneumococcal disease is a very serious illness. Of those who develop an invasive infection1

1 in 4

Will get


1 in 4

Will get


1 in 10

Will die


Like the common cold, pneumococcal disease is spread by close contact through coughing and sneezing.1,3

People can carry the pneumo bug in their nose and throat without being sick and can easily spread the bacteria to others.1

This can cause many types of illnesses that range from mild to very severe.1 When pneumococcal bacteria spreads from the nose and throat to ears or sinuses, it generally causes mild infections.1 When it spreads into other parts of the body, it can lead to severe health problems like pneumonia and meningitis.1

When someone with the INFECTION coughs or sneezes

The GERMS CAN SPREAD to other people1


What happens when you have a Pneumo infection?

If the pneumococcal bacteria infect the lungs, they can cause pneumonia.1,3 When they invade the blood stream, they cause bacteraemia and when they invade the brain, they cause meningitis.1,3 Pneumococcal disease is a very serious disease.4
It is a major cause of pneumonia in communities throughout Ireland and also causes3:

  • Sinusitis
  • Osteomyelitis (inflammation of a bone)
  • Bronchitis
  • Ear infection
  • Blood stream infection (Bacteraemia)

Do you know if you are at-risk of Pneumo?

Everyone is at risk of pneumo disease but the biggest risk factor is age.1 In addition to age, other risk factors include having diabetes, asthma, chronic heart disease, a weakened immune system and patients receiving chemotherapy.3

Pneumococcal disease can be prevented by vaccination

Over the years, Streptococcus pneumoniae has become resistant to many medications making the treatment of pneumococcal infections much more difficult. Prevention of disease through our National Immunisation Programmes is more important than ever.1,3

Vaccination is recommended for those at risk as part of the National Immunisation Programme

Pneumococcal disease is very serious. Those in the following at risk groups should be vaccinated with Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPV23)3,4

Everybody aged 65 years and over

cartoon older couple aged 65 and older eligible for pneumococcal vaccine

Also those aged over 2 years with:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung, heart, liver, or kidney disease
  • Chronic neurological disease
  • Children aged over 2 years and under 5 years of age with a history of invasive pneumococcal disease
  • Coeliac disease
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cochlear implants or are about to get cochlear implants
  • Immune deficiency because of a disease or treatment, including cancer patients
  • HIV infection
  • Absent spleen or a non-functioning spleen
  • CSF leaks, either congenital or complicating skull fractures or neurosurgery
  • Intracranial shunt.
cartoon women with asthma inhaler
PPV23 vaccination is not recommended for healthy children and adults as they are at low risk of pneumococcal disease3,4


Know how to protect yourself against pneumo in later life when you are most at risk.

older man speaking to healthcare professional

How do I protect myself against Pneumo?

Pneumococcal vaccines which can help protect certain populations against Pneumococcal disease are available through the National (PPV23) Immunisation Programme.3,4

The vaccine is free of charge for those for whom it is officially recommended such as people over the age of 65 and in identified at-risk groups, such as those with diabetes, heart disease or respiratory conditions.3

Outside the childhood immunisation programme, pneumococcal vaccination is usually a single vaccination for those at-risk,

but re-vaccination may be required for some people in certain at-risk groups.3,4

The vaccine can be received when getting your annual flu vaccination or any other time that you visit your doctor’s surgery.3,4

Know Pneumo and find out more about pneumococcal disease, speak to your doctor or pharmacist today and ask how you can protect yourself from Pneumo.


  1. https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/pcischedule/vpds/pneumococcal (Accessed August 2021)
  2. MSD Data on File. The research was commissioned by MSD Ireland and carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes on a sample population of 500 adults in Ireland. - Accessed July 2021
  3. http://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/adult/pneumo (Accessed August 2021)
  4. https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/hcpinfo/othervaccines/pneumo (Accessed August 2021)