Pneumonia can be very serious and even life threatening. Vaccines can help prevent certain types of pneumonia. Good hygiene, quitting smoking, and keeping your immune system strong by exercising and healthy eating are other ways to prevent pneumonia.
Vaccines are available to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria or the flu virus, or influenza. Vaccines can't prevent all cases of infection. However, compared to people who don't get vaccinated, those who are vaccinated and still get pneumonia tend to have:
- Milder infections
- Pneumonia that doesn't last as long
- Fewer serious complications
Pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines
Two vaccines are available to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and potentially fatal complications such as bacteremia and. Pneumococcal vaccines are particularly important for:
- Adults who are 65 years old or older.
- People who have chronic (ongoing) diseases, serious long-term health problems, or weak immune systems. For example, this may include people who have cancer, HIV/AIDS, asthma, sickle cell disease, or damaged or removed spleens.
- People who smoke.
- Children who are younger than five years old.
- Children older than five years of age with certain medical conditions such as heart or lung diseases or cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults who are 65 and older should have two pneumococcal vaccinations. Visit the CDC’s Pneumococcal Vaccination for information about pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines for adults.
Influenza (flu) vaccine
Because many people get pneumonia after having influenza or the flu, your yearly flu vaccine can help you and your family not get pneumonia. The flu vaccine is usually given in September through November before the months when influenza or the flu is most frequently spread.
For more information about the influenza or flu vaccine, go to the CDC's Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Vaccination Web page.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a type of bacteria that can cause pneumonia and. The Hib vaccine is given to children to help prevent these infections. The vaccine is recommended for all children in the United States who are younger than five years old. The vaccine often is given to infants starting at two months of age.
For more information about the Hib vaccine, go to the CDC's Hib Vaccination Web page.
Other ways to help prevent pneumonia
You also can take the following steps to help prevent pneumonia:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based rubs to kill germs.
- Don't smoke. Smoking damages your lungs' ability to filter out and defend against germs. For information about how to quit smoking, read Smoking and Your Heart. Although this resource focuses on heart health, it includes general information about how to quit smoking.
- Keep your immune system strong. Get plenty of rest and physical activity and follow a healthy diet. Read more about heart-healthy eating and physical activity.