Pneumococci can cause a serious infection – children and people in risk groups get vaccinated free of charge

Publication date 5.2.2024 8.34 | Published in English on 5.2.2024 at 8.59
News item

Pneumococci, or Streptococcus pneumoniae, are bacteria that cause common upper respiratory tract infections, including sinus and middle ear infections. They may sometimes also cause serious diseases that require hospitalisation, including pneumonia, meningitis and blood poisoning. However, blood poisoning or meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria are rare in Finland.

Some underlying medical conditions increase the risk of developing severe pneumococcal disease. This is why people in risk groups get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of the national vaccination programme. These risk groups are: 

  • all stem cell transplant recipients
  • under 75-year-olds with severe kidney disease
  • under 75-year-olds with severe immunodeficiency
  • 65–84-year-olds who have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Young children are also especially susceptible to pneumococcal diseases. This is why all children aged under 5 get the pneumococcal vaccine as part of the national vaccination programme. The vaccinations are usually administered during child health clinic visits. 

The pneumococcal vaccine prevents serious diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria and related secondary diseases. However, only some cases of pneumonia are caused by pneumococci, so the vaccine does not prevent pneumonia that is caused by other pathogens. 

Vaccines in the national vaccination programme are free of charge and voluntary. Wellbeing services counties are responsible for organising vaccinations, and they inform residents where and when vaccinations are available.

For more information on the target groups of the pneumococcal vaccine, contact your local health station or your doctor.

More information

What are pneumococci? (THL, in Finnish)

Pneumococcal vaccines (THL, in Finnish)

Who can receive a free pneumococcal vaccine? (THL, in Finnish)

Anniina Virkku
Medical Specialist
[email protected] 

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