CDC: People with Work-related Asthma Vulnerable to Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Published October 18, 2017

​Just 54 percent of adults with work-related asthma have been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, says a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Adults with asthma are at increased risk for the disease, and those who have work-related asthma are “particularly vulnerable to pneumococcal pneumonia,” says NIOSH Director John Howard, MD. According to CDC, pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, which can cause illnesses such as ear infections, meningitis, and pneumonia. Individuals with asthma who get pneumococcal pneumonia are at risk for additional complications such as asthma exacerbation and invasive pneumococcal disease. 

CDC recommends that all adults ages 19 through 64 years old with asthma get the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, which the agency says is the best way to prevent pneumococcal disease.

“Our study found that the vaccination coverage for pneumococcal disease among adults who have ever worked and have asthma falls short of achieving the coverage public health experts recommend,” said Katelynn Dodd, MPH, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist in NIOSH’s Respiratory Health Division. “To increase the number of adults with asthma who are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, we recommend that healthcare providers verify if their patients who have asthma have received a pneumococcal vaccine and offer the vaccine to those not vaccinated.”

NIOSH researchers analyzed data from nearly 10,000 adults with asthma from 29 states who have ever held a job. The data comes from individuals who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey conducted in the U.S. in 2012 or 2013. BRFSS is intended to gather data on health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services, and includes an optional follow-up survey that collects detailed information on asthma.

More information is available in CDC’s press release.