Are vaccines available to prevent pneumonia?

Yes, there are two types of vaccines (shots) specifically approved to prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. Similar to a flu shot, these vaccines won’t protect against all types of pneumonia, but if you do come down with pneumonia, it’s less likely to be as severe or potentially life-threatening – especially for people who are at increased risk for pneumonia.

  • Bacterial pneumonia: Two pneumonia vaccines, Pneumovax23® and Prevnar13®, protect against the most common causes of bacterial pneumonia.
    • Pneumovax23® protects against 23 different types of pneumococcal bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children over 2 years of age who are at increased risk for pneumonia.
    • Prevnar13® protects against 13 types of pneumonia bacteria. It is recommended for all adults 65 years of age and older and children under 2 years of age. Ask your healthcare provider about these vaccines.
  • Viral pneumonia: Get a flu vaccine (shot) once every year. Flu vaccines are prepared to protect against that year’s virus strain. Having the flu can make it easier to get bacterial pneumonia.

If you have children, ask their doctor about other vaccines they should get. Several childhood vaccines help prevent infections caused by the bacteria and viruses that can lead to pneumonia.

Besides vaccination, what else can I do to prevent bacterial and viral pneumonia?

Receiving all recommended vaccinations is one of the best ways to prevent pneumonia. Additionally, there are several other ways to prevent pneumonia, including:

  • Quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke. Smoking damages your lungs.
  • Washing your hands before eating, before handling food, after using the restroom, and after being outside. If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding being around people who are sick. Ask them to visit when they are feeling better.
  • Not touching or sharing objects that are shared with others. Germs can be transferred from object to you if you touch your nose or mouth without washing or sanitizing your hands first.
  • Eating a healthy diet, exercise, and get enough rest. Healthy habits keep your immune system strong.
  • Getting treated for any other infections or health conditions you may have. These conditions could weaken your immune system, which could increase your chance of infections.
  • Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol.

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