PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
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.
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