You can help prevent pneumonia by doing the following:
•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. Practice good hygiene. Your hands come in contact with many germs throughout the day. Take time to wash your hands often, especially after using the restroom and before eating. Use lukewarm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Also, keeping hand sanitizer on you is a good idea.
•Practice a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get plenty of sleep. All these things help your immune system stay strong.
There are vaccines that 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.
Get the Pneumococcal Vaccine
There isn’t a vaccine for all types of pneumonia, but 2 vaccines are available. The first is called the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). It is recommended for all children younger than 5 years of age. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) is recommended for children 2 years of age and older who are at increased risk for pneumonia (such as children who have weakened immune systems), and for adults who have risk factors for pneumonia. This vaccine is recommended if you:
•Are 65 years of age or older
•Have certain chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease
•Have a condition that weakens your immune system, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), kidney failure or a damaged spleen
•Have had your spleen removed for any reason
•Have sickle cell disease
•Have cochlear implants (an electronic device that helps you hear)
•Are taking medicine for a recent organ transplant (these medicines suppress your immune system)
•Are receiving chemotherapy
*The pneumococcal vaccines can’t prevent all cases of pneumonia. But they can make it less likely that people who are at risk will experience the severe, and possibly life-threatening, complications of pneumonia.