How Can Pneumonia Be Prevented?

Some forms of bacterial pneumonia can be prevented with a vaccine (pneumococcal vaccine). The vaccine does not protect against most types of viral pneumonia or the pneumonia that people with low immunity tend to develop.

In most people, vaccination is needed only once in a lifetime. However, others, including those people at highest risk for serious disease, may need to be vaccinated a second time. Individuals should consult their physicians to determine if a second vaccination is recommended.

Those who should get vaccinated include:

  • People over age 65
  • Anyone with a serious chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Nice To Know:

Pregnant or nursing women and children under 2 years old should not be vaccinated with the pneumococcal vaccine. Routine revaccination of adults is not recommended.

  • The vaccine for the flu (pneumovax) can help prevent one type of viral pneumonia. Since the flu virus changes from year to year, this shot needs to be given once each year in order to be effective and should also be given to people who are over 65 or who have serious illnesses.
  • Pneumococcal vaccination is appropriate at any time of the year but is most often given at the same time as the influenza vaccine in the early to mid-Fall.

How-To Information:

Personal methods to avoid pneumonia

Prevent pneumonia by taking measures to avoid the organisms that cause respiratory infections, including colds and flu. Always wash hands before eating and after going outside.

Ordinary soap is okay. Expensive antibacterial soaps add little protection, particularly against viruses.

  • Eat a daily diet that includes foods rich in antioxidants, such as fresh, dark-colored fruits and vegetables and other nutrients.
  • Increase lung capacity through brisk walking and other aerobic exercises. Breathing exercises, which train us to take slow, deep, relaxed breaths and exhale through pursed lips, may also be helpful.
  • Do not smoke.

To avoid aspiration pneumonia:

  • Open a window when you use cleaning products, especially when you are in a small room.
  • Do not spray or use chemicals outside when it’s windy. If you must work in the wind, make sure the chemicals are blowing away from you instead of toward you. Wear a mask over your mouth and nose, and wear clothing that protects your skin.
  • Read and follow all safety directions on the labels of any chemical you use.

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