There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent getting pneumonia.
- Stop smoking. You're more likely to get pneumonia if you smoke.
- Avoid people who have infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia.
- Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.
Children get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)(What is a PDF document?) as a routine vaccination. Two different pneumococcal shots are recommended for people ages 65 and older. Some people who have long-term (chronic) conditions also need the pneumococcal vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccine may not prevent pneumonia. But it can prevent some of the serious complications of pneumonia, such as infection in the bloodstream (bacteremia) or throughout the body (septicemia), in younger adults and those older than age 55 who have a healthy immune system.6, 7
Other vaccines can prevent common diseases that sometimes lead to pneumonia, such as:
- Measles. Vaccination of children for measles can prevent most cases of measles. Adults may need to be vaccinated against measles if they have not had the disease or were not vaccinated during childhood.
- Flu. A yearly flu vaccine may keep you from getting the flu. The flu often can lead to pneumonia, especially in older adults or in people who have other long-term (chronic) diseases. You can get the flu vaccine at the same time as the pneumococcal vaccine.
- Chickenpox. The chickenpox shot (varicella-zoster vaccine) can prevent most cases of pneumonia caused by the virus that causes chickenpox. Consider getting a shot if you are older than 13 and have not had chickenpox.