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Pneumonia - Prevention

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.
    • Stay away from people who have colds, the flu, or other respiratory tract infections.
    • If you haven't had measles or chickenpox or if you didn't get vaccines against these diseases, avoid people who have them.
  • Wash your hands often. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that may cause pneumonia.

Vaccinations

Children get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)(What is a PDF document?) as a routine vaccination. Older adults (age 65 or older), people who smoke, and people who have some long-term (chronic) conditions also need the pneumococcal vaccine. Depending on age and other things, adults can get PCV or the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)(What is a PDF document?). Some adults need both types.

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.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 06, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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