Pneumonia is an infectious disease that affects the lungs and leads to symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It may affect one or both lungs and severity can range from mild to deadly. Pneumonia can be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal processes. There are many factors that contribute to the severity such as age, co-morbidity, immune system, and whether or not the person smokes.
With pneumonia the air sacs of the lungs (alveoli) fill up with fluid and/or pus resulting in damage to the lung tissue. It is transmitted from patient to patient through contact with respiratory droplets. Those over the age of 65 are at greater risk of developing a severe form of pneumonia known as lobar pneumonia caused by the bacteria Streptococcus Pneumoniae.
People over age 65 and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of acquiring more serious and life-threatening forms of pneumonia. Those at high risk can protect themselves by getting the pneumonia vaccine. Later in this article we will discuss the two vaccines that protect against pneumonia caused by Streptococcus Pneumoniae.