Pneumonia Prevention

Pneumonia (nu-MO-nya) is an infection in the lungs.  It causes the air sacs in the lungs to fill with fluid, making it hard for you to breathe.

Here are some basic things you can do to lower your risk for getting pneumonia:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Stay away from those who have a cold or the flu.
  • Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Stay active.

Should I get a pneumonia vaccine?

The pneumonia vaccine helps your body fight pneumococcal (nu-mo-KOCK-al) bacteria, which attacks the lungs and can cause pneumonia.  When certain conditions exist, the level of protection offered by this vaccine may decrease. You may need to get this vaccine again.  If you received your first vaccine before the age of 65 and more than 5 years have passed, you should be revaccinated.

Your doctor may recommend a pneumonia vaccine for you if:

  • You are age 65 or older
  • You are recovering from a severe illness
  • You have a chronic illness such as lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis, leaks of cerebral spinal fluid, or if you have a disease or take a drug that lowers the body's resistance to infection

The pneumonia vaccine is not recommended for those who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are younger than age 2
  • Moderately or severely ill; you may be asked to wait until you recover to get the vaccine.

Some people have allergic reactions to the pneumonia vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to any drug in the past.

Get a Flu Shot

Because viral pneumonia may develop from influenza, a yearly flu shot can help prevent pneumonia. Talk to your doctor to see if a flu shot can help you.


Call _____________________________ if you have any questions about this information.

For more information

For more information about the pneumococcal vaccine, refer to the CDC pneumococcal vaccine information sheet (PDF).

Revised 2011

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