Pneumonia Can Be Prevented—Vaccines Can Help
Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year. Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Lower your risk of pneumonia with vaccines and other healthy living practices.
Each year in the United States, about 1 million people have to seek care in a hospital due to pneumonia. Unfortunately, about 50,000 people die from the disease each year in the United States. Most of the people affected by pneumonia in the United States are adults. Vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals) could prevent many of these deaths.
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
These vaccines are safe, but side effects can occur. Most side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. See the vaccine information statements for each vaccine to learn more about the most common side effects.
Encourage friends and loved ones to make sure they are up to date with their vaccines.
CDC recommends two pneumococcal vaccines for adults 65 years or older.
- Get a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) first. Then get a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) at least 1 year later.
- If you’ve already received PPSV23, get PCV13 at least 1 year after receipt of the most recent PPSV23 dose.
- If you’ve already received a dose of PCV13 at a younger age, CDC does not recommend another dose.
- Washing your hands regularly
- Cleaning surfaces that are touched a lot
- Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve
- Limiting contact with cigarette smoke or quitting smoking
- Managing ongoing medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). However, clinicians are not always able to find out which germ caused someone to get sick with pneumonia.
Community-acquired pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia in the community (not in a hospital). Healthcare-associated pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia during or following a stay in a healthcare facility. Healthcare facilities include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and dialysis centers. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is when someone gets pneumonia after being on a ventilator, a machine that supports breathing. The bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in healthcare settings.
See causes of pneumonia.
Prevent Pneumonia (CDC Featured Podcasts) [00:04:17 minutes]
This podcast explains what pneumonia is, its symptoms, and how to prevent it.
Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) [00:04:22 minutes]
In this podcast, Dr. Eileen Schneider talks about a common cause of respiratory illness in young children.