Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria. There are many different pneumococci.
Many people carry pneumococci and do not become ill. You can infect each another by sneezing, coughing or kissing, even if you are not ill yourself. Pneumococci can cause a middle ear infection, sinusitis and bronchitis, but can also lead to severe pneumonia, meningitis or blood poisoning. You can die from these severe forms.
Babies receive 3 vaccinations against pneumococcal disease before their first birthday.