In people most at risk, a pneumococcal infection can cause meningitis, pneumonia, or other conditions such as severe ear infections.
Pneumococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing or close contact.
Pneumococcus can affect people of all ages, but those over 65 are at most risk of serious illness – as are people with a few serious medical conditions, such as heart, kidney or liver disease, chronic respiratory disease or lowered immunity.
Anyone in one of these higher-risk categories is eligible for the vaccine if they have not received it already.
Most people will receive lifelong protection from one dose of the vaccine, though a booster may be needed every five years for some people with serious long-term health conditions.
Pneumococcal vaccinations were paused during the pandemic, in order to focus effort on the roll-out of the Covid vaccine.
Dr Nigel Calvert, consultant in Public Health Medicine and Immunisation Coordinator, said: “Dumfries and Galloway has had a very successful Covid vaccination programme with more than three quarters of eligible people are now fully vaccinated, and more than 95 per cent of those over 65.
"However, Covid isn’t the only disease where vaccination can be tremendously effective, preventing serious illness, hospitalisation or even death, particularly among those most at risk.
“For many people, a pneumococcal infection will just mean an elevated temperature and a headache. But for someone older, or with a serious medical condition, it could be very dangerous.
"It’s important to get the vaccine if you’re eligible. A single dose is enough to protect most people, though some will need a booster every few years, and it will give you really significant protection against some potentially very serious illnesses.”
Letters of invitation are now being sent to all eligible people, anyone who believes they are eligible, but who has not received a letter in the next few weeks, can call 01387 403090 or email [email protected]