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Preventing Pneumonia

Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?

Yes. You can reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by following a few simple steps. Here's how:

Get Vaccinated

  • 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.
  • Children younger than 5 and adults 65 and older should get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, a common form of bacterial pneumonia. The pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for all children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease due to other health conditions. There are 2 types of pneumococcal vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if one of them is right for you.
  • There are several other vaccines that can prevent infections by bacteria and viruses that may lead to pneumonia, including pertussis, chicken pox and measles. Please talk to your doctor about whether you and your children are up to date on your vaccines and to determine if any of these vaccines are appropriate for you.

Wash Your Hands

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. Smokers are considered one of the high risk groups that are encouraged to get the pneumococcal vaccine.

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 sick from 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 influenza 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 (RSV).

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

Learn more about the symptoms, causes and risk factors of pneumonia.

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