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Announcement: World Pneumonia Day --- November 12, 2010

Pneumonia kills more children than any other illness; among approximately 9 million children aged <5 years who die each year worldwide, 1.6 million die from pneumonia (1). Through the Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia, the World Health Organization and international partners recommend that the global health burden of pneumonia be reduced by 1) using vaccines against organisms that cause pneumonia, 2) providing appropriate care and treatment for persons who contract pneumonia, and 3) promoting preventive measures such as exclusive breastfeeding of infants during their first 6 months of life (2).

Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) account for approximately 60% of pneumonia deaths worldwide of children aged 1 month--5 years in countries that do not use pneumococcal or Hib conjugate vaccines (3,4). In the United States, pneumococcal and Hib conjugate vaccines are recommended for infants and children aged <2 years as part of the routine infant immunization schedule and have reduced morbidity and mortality from pneumococcal disease by 76% and from Hib disease by >99% among children aged <5 years (5,6). In 2010, a 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was licensed and recommended in the United States. Collaborative international efforts are expanding use of these vaccines in developing countries (7).

Respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and measles, also are major causes of pneumonia globally. In 2005, an estimated 33.8 million episodes of RSV-associated acute lower respiratory infection occurred in children aged <5 years worldwide (8). Recent studies suggest that 6%--10% of childhood pneumonia is associated with influenza (9,10). Use of influenza and measles vaccines, antiviral medications, and supportive health care can reduce the burden of pneumonia caused by these viruses.

To raise awareness of the effects of pneumonia globally, the second annual World Pneumonia Day, November 12, 2010, is being promoted by a coalition of more than 100 major health, humanitarian relief, advocacy, faith-based, government, and other organizations; CDC and UNICEF are providing technical assistance. Events are scheduled at CDC and elsewhere in the United States and other countries. Additional information is available at


  1. Black RE, Cousens S, Johnson HL, et al. Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality in 2008: a systematic analysis. Lancet 2010;375:1969--87.
  2. World Health Organization/UNICEF. Global action plan for prevention and control of pneumonia (GAPP). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2009. Available at Accessed October 28, 2010.
  3. O'Brien KL, Wolfson LJ, Watt JP, et al. Burden of disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in children younger than 5 years: global estimates. Lancet 2009;374:893--902.
  4. Watt JP, Wolfson LJ, O'Brien KL, et al. Burden of disease caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b in children younger than 5 years: global estimates. Lancet 2009;374:903--11.
  5. Pilishvili T, Lexau C, Farley MM, et al. Sustained reductions in invasive pneumococcal disease in the era of conjugate vaccine. J Infect Dis 2010;201:32--41.
  6. CDC. Progress toward elimination of Haemophilus influenzae type b invasive disease among infants and children---United States, 1998--2000. MMWR 2002;51:234--7.
  7. Hajjeh RA, Privor-Dumm L, Edmond K, et al. Supporting new vaccine introduction decisions: lessons learned from the Hib Initiative experience. Vaccine 2010;28:7123--9.
  8. Nair H, Nokes DJ, Gessner BD, et al. Global burden of acute lower respiratory infections due to respiratory syncytial virus in young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2010;375:1545--55.
  9. Brooks WA, Goswami D, Rahman M, et al. Influenza is a major contributor to childhood pneumonia in a tropical developing country. Pediatr Infect Dis J 2010;29:216--21.
  10. Berkley JA, Munywoki P, Ngama M, et al. Viral etiology of severe pneumonia among Kenyan infants and children. JAMA 2010;303:2051--7.

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