Preventing Pneumonia

You can reduce your risk of getting pneumonia by following a few simple steps.

Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?

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

Get Vaccinated

  • Seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the virus that causes COVID-19 are common causes of pneumonia. Being up to date on your recommended vaccines like an annual flu shot can help prevent pneumonia.
  • Certain people should get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, a common form of bacterial pneumonia including:
    • All children younger than 5 years old.
    • People 5 through 64 years old who are at increased risk for pneumococcal pneumonia due to medical conditions such as:
      • Chronic lung disease
      • Chronic heart, kidney and liver disease
      • Diabetes
      • Immunocompromising condition
      • Cigarette smoking
      • Alcoholism
      • Cerebrospinal fluid leak
      • Cochlear implant
    • Adults 65 and older should get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia.
    • Additional pneumococcal vaccinations may be recommended for children and adults who are at increased risk of pneumococcal disease depending on their health condition(s). Talk to your healthcare provider about your or your child’s specific recommendations.
  • There are several other vaccines that can help prevent infections by bacteria and viruses that may lead to pneumonia, including pertussis (whooping cough), chicken pox, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and measles. Please talk to your doctor about whether you and your family 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 coughing or 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 people who smoke have been found to be at higher risk of getting pneumonia. Tobacco users are considered one of the high-risk groups that are encouraged to get the pneumonia vaccine to help prevent pneumococcal 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 keep you from getting sick from viruses and respiratory illnesses. They also help promote faster recovery when you do get a cold, the flu or other respiratory illness.
  • Take care to keep well managed existing health conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease.


Talk to our experts at the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine. Our service is free and we are here to help you by phone, web chat or email.
Contact the Helpine

Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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