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How do you prevent pneumonia?

There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of pneumonia. These are important to follow if you have previously had pneumonia, to prevent developing it again.

Don’t smoke

Smokers have an increased risk of developing pneumonia as well as other chest infections – and so do children whose parents smoke.

Practise good hygiene

Common winter viral infections increase the risk of pneumonia, so practise good hygiene to reduce the spread of germs. Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw it in the bin straight away.

Avoid alcohol misuse

Excessive alcohol misuse weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections, including pneumonia.

Get vaccinated

There are two types of vaccine available for pneumonia. They protect against the most common cause of pneumonia, the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. They aim to protect people who are at a higher risk from pneumonia, including older people and babies.

The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is for people over 65 and anyone over the age of two who’s in a high-risk group. Most adults will only need to have this vaccination once in their life.

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is given to all infants by the NHS. Babies get their first dose when they’re 2 months old.

If you’re in a high-risk group, it’s also a good idea to have a flu jab every year. It’s usually free for people at risk and is available from your GP and many high street chemists.

To find out more about getting a pneumonia or flu jab, talk to your GP or call our helpline on 0300 222 5800.

Next: how to diagnose and treat pneumonia >

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Download our pneumonia information (PDF, 223KB)

Last medically reviewed: October 2019. Due for review: October 2022

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.