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.
  • Certain people should get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, a common form of bacterial pneumonia including:
    • Children younger than 2.
    • Children 2-5 with certain health conditions such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease and diabetes.
    • Adults 19-64 with certain chronic health conditions or risk factors such as asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease or cigarette smoking.
    • All 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).
    • There are two types of pneumococcal vaccines. 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 (whooping cough), COVID-19, chicken pox 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 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 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.

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.

Questions?

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: February 18, 2022

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