(NC) Holiday shopping, late-night celebrations and family commitments can often make this a more stressful time. Unfortunately, lack of sleep and added stress can weaken your immune system, putting you at greater risk of colds and other illnesses, like pneumonia.

Pneumococcal pneumonia, the most common type of bacterial pneumonia, can affect anyone, but there are many people who are at a higher risk of contracting it. This usually happens when the body is already weakened, whether by illness, old age, poor nutrition or compromised immunity. In these cases, the bacteria that cause this type of pneumonia can more easily enter your lungs.

The risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia increases if you smoke, have recently had surgery, are debilitated, are younger than five or 65 and older, are a resident of a nursing home or other chronic care facility or a patient in a hospital. A weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, taking corticosteroid pills, having an organ transplant or being treated for cancer can also put you at greater risk. Having a chronic lung disease like asthma, COPD, or other chronic diseases like diabetes are influencing factors.

Complications from pneumococcal pneumonia include fever and difficulty breathing. Older adults may also experience confusion or low alertness. It kills 1,500 Canadian adults each year, yet it is a vaccine-preventable disease.

That’s why everyone, especially those considered high-risk, should get vaccinated. For those who are 65 and older, two shots are better than one in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia. For the best protection, adults should speak to their healthcare provider about getting both vaccines.

Learn more online at lungontario.ca/vaccines.