Pneumonia Outpacing COVID-19 Fatalities During Spring 2022

Pneumococcal and influenza vaccines help prevent pneumonia deaths
chart showing cases of flu, covid and pneumonia
(Precision Vaccinations News)

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the health industry. But as COVID-19 related fatalities subside, a well-known respiratory threat has become more visible.

According to the U.S. CDC’s reporting on March 17, 2022, about 10.8% of the deaths during week #10 were due to pneumonia, influenza, and/or COVID-19 (PIC). 

Among the 1,890 PIC deaths reported for this week, 1,215 had COVID-19 listed as an underlying or contributing cause of death on the death certificate, 660 were related to pneumonia, and 15 listed influenza.

This National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Surveillance data indicates that current PIC mortality is due primarily to COVID-19 and pneumonia, but not influenza. 

Furthermore, the 2022 trend data from the CDC indicates pneumonia may soon overtake COVID-19 as the leading cause of respiratory death in the U.S.

Historically, the CDC reported the number of visits to emergency departments with pneumonia as the primary diagnosis averaged about 1.5 million, which led to 47,000 deaths annually.

The good news is pneumonia is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Unfortunately, the percentage of adults who had ever received a pneumococcal vaccination was 25.5% in 2020.

When the CDC published updated vaccination schedules for 2022 on February 18th, it included enhanced recommendations for both children and seniors.

Currently, there are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines used to help protect people against pneumococcal disease:

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20)
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)

“As pharmacists, we strongly encourage all our patients, who are at an increased risk of Pneumococcal disease due to their age and/or underlying health conditions, to stay up to date on the Pneumonia vaccine," said Natasha Glidersleeve, PharmD.

"The Pneumonia vaccines have been on the market for a long time and they have proven to be safe and effective."

"These vaccines are one of the best tools we have to prevent serious illnesses caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and to keep our patients alive and out of hospitals,” a Clinical Pharmacist, MTM, and Immunization Specialist for Brookshire Grocery Company.

The CDC says ‘these vaccines protect against many, but not all types of pneumococcal bacteria. Also, the protection from these vaccines is good but not perfect.’

There is still a chance someone can develop the pneumococcal disease after vaccination for these reasons.

Furthermore, an underappreciated pneumonia prevention strategy is the annual flu shot.

The CDC strongly encourages most people over the age of six months to get an influenza vaccination each year.

The best news is pneumonia, and influenza vaccines are available at local pharmacies. Influenza vaccines are available during flu season, typically September- March, while Pneumonia vaccines are available year-round.

Additional pneumonia vaccine news is posted at

PrecisionVaccinations publishes fact-check, research-based vaccine news.

Note: This news article edited CDC reports and was manually curated for mobile readers.

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