Prevent Pneumonia

Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?


  • Get a flu shot every year to prevent seasonal influenza. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so preventing the flu is a good way to prevent pneumonia.
  • Get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia if you are at high risk of getting this type of pneumonia. The pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine is recommended for all children under the age of 5 and for adults with specific risk factors.

People who may be at high risk include those who:

  • Have chronic illnesses such as lung disease, heart disease, kidney disorders, sickle cell anemia, or diabetes.
  • Are recovering from severe illness
  • Are in nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
  • Are age 65 or older

There are several vaccines that can prevent bacterial infections that may lead to pneumonia. Please talk to your doctor about whether you are up to date on your vaccines and to determine if any of these vaccines are appropriate for you.

Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, diapering, and before eating or preparing foods.

Don't smoke. Tobacco damages your lung's ability to fight off infection, and smokers have been found to be at higher risk of getting pneumonia.

Be aware of your general health!

  • Since pneumonia often follows respiratory infections, be aware of any symptoms that linger more than a few days.
  • Good health habits—a healthy diet, rest, regular exercise, etc.—help you from getting viruses and respiratory illnesses. They also help promote fast recovery when you do get a cold, the flu or other respiratory illness.

If you have children, talk to their doctor about:

  • Hib vaccine, which prevents pneumonia in children from Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • A drug called Synagis (palivizumab), which is given to some children younger than 24 months to prevent pneumonia caused by respiratory syncytial virus.

If you have cancer or HIV, talk to your doctor about additional ways to prevent pneumonia and other infections.