Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria kills more people in the U.S. than all other vaccine-preventable diseases (approx 40,000 people annually). It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis. It is also a frequent cause of sinus infections, pneumonia, pink eye and ear infections. Pneumococcal bacteria pass easily from person to person through the air. Pneumococcal infections can be treated with antibiotics, but increasingly we see common medications fail to eradicate this germ.
Two forms of pneumococcal vaccine exist. The routine four-dose series is given at 2, 4, 6 and 12 months. A vaccine that prevents more strains of Pneumococcus can be given after age 2 for children with special susceptibility to pneumococcal infection.