To help prevent pneumonia:

  • Get a seasonal flu shot. The influenza virus can be a direct cause of viral pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia is also a common complication of the flu. A yearly flu shot provides significant protection.
  • Get a pneumonia vaccination. Doctors recommend a one-time vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria (pneumococcus) for everyone older than age 65, as well as for people of any age residing in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and for smokers. The vaccine is especially recommended for anyone at high risk of pneumococcal pneumonia. Some doctors recommend a booster shot five years after the first dose.
  • Have your child vaccinated. Doctors recommend a different pneumonia vaccine for all children younger than age 2 and for children ages 2 to 5 years who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease. Children who attend a group day care center should also get the vaccine. Doctors also recommend seasonal flu shots for children older than six months.
  • Practice good hygiene. To protect yourself against ordinary respiratory infections that sometimes lead to pneumonia, wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking damages your lungs' natural defenses against respiratory infections.
  • Stay rested and fit. Proper rest, a healthy diet and moderate exercise can help keep your immune system strong.
  • Set an example. Stay home when you're sick. When you're in public and have a cold, catch your coughs and sneezes in the inner crook of your elbow.
May. 21, 2013