The Australian Lung Foundation is encouraging Australians to protect their lungs this Pneumonia Awareness Week (July 2 – 8, 2012) by increasing awareness of pneumococcal pneumonia, an often fatal lung infection.

Pneumonia Awareness Week aims to heighten community awareness and understanding of one of the top 10 contributing causes of deaths in Australia, which claims 1.6 million lives worldwide each year.

Team VIVA! is joining the Lung Foundation, experts and patients nation-wide to call for preventative action to curb pneumococcal infection rates this winter.

Today, Australian-first research has been released revealing almost two-in-three at-risk Australians aged 15-to-64* are failing to protect against pneumococcal pneumonia.

Spearheaded by the University of Sydney’s Family Medicine Research Centre and based on GP data involving 2,500 patients nation-wide, the research reveals poor vaccination rates among younger Australians, many of whom are at increased risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia compared with those aged 65 years and over.

According to Professor Robert Booy, Head of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), Sydney, this research reinforces the dangers associated with pneumococcal pneumonia.

“Worryingly, this research reveals vaccination coverage is low among people aged 15-to-64 years who are at-risk of pneumococcal pneumonia, including people living with diabetes, chronic heart disease, chronic lung disease and tobacco smokers,”said Prof Booy.

About pneumococcal pneumonia

Pneumococcal pneumonia is an inflammatory lung infection caused by the bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. Pneumoniae), also known as pneumococcus. Symptoms can include rapid or difficulty breathing, fever, chills and loss of appetite.

About Pneumonia Awareness Week 2012 – Protecting Against Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Pneumonia Awareness Week runs from Monday, July 2 to Sunday, July 8, 2012. The week is designed to educate Australians about the seriousness of pneumonia and to encourage those at risk of developing the infection including people with certain chronic illnesses and older Australians, to seek further information from their doctor. This winter, the theme for Pneumonia Awareness Week is Protecting Against Pneumococcal Pneumonia.

About the Australian Lung Foundation

The Australian Lung Foundation (ALF) was established in 1990 by thoracic physicians concerned about the chronic shortage of funds for research into respiratory medicine and the impact of lung disease on the community. The ALF aims to ensure lung health is a priority for all Australians.

People at risk of pneumococcal pneumonia should see their doctor about ways to protect themselves against infection, including vaccination. For more information about pneumonia, visit

Join the conversation online: #protectyourlungs

*At-risk groups as per NHMRC Guidelines


1. World Health Organization (WHO). Pneumococcal disease; 2012. WHO. Available online.
2. Harrison, C, Mayram, C, Charles, J & Britt J. ‘Pneumococcal vaccination coverage of Australian general practice patients.’ Presented at the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) 13th National Immunisation Conference, Darwin, June 20, 2012
3. Dept of Health & Ageing. Immunise – Pneumococcal Disease. 2012. Available online.