Pneumonia Can Be Prevented—Vaccines Can Help

Pneumonia Can Be Prevented—Vaccines Can Help

Some patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have had pneumonia. Learn more about COVID-19.

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.

CDC data showed that in the United States during 2018:

  1. 5 million people were diagnosed with pneumonia in an emergency department
  2. Approximately 44,000 people died from pneumonia

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.

Lower your risk by getting vaccinated

In the United States, vaccines can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia:

  1. COVID-19
  1. Haemophilus influenzaetype b (Hib)
  2. Influenza (flu)
  3. Measles
  4. Pertussis (whooping cough)
  5. Pneumococcal
  6. 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 to learn more about common side effects. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines’ side effects.

Encourage friends and loved ones to make sure they are up to date with their vaccines.


World Pneumonia Dayexternal icon is observed each year on November 12th. Globally, pneumonia kills more than 670,000 children younger than 5 years old each year. This is greater than the number of deaths from any infectious disease, such as HIV infection, malaria, or tuberculosis.

Protect your health with these healthy living practices

Avoid people who are sick. If you are sick, stay away from others as much as possible to keep from getting them sick.

You can also help prevent respiratory infections by:

  1. Washing your hands regularly
  1. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are touched a lot
  2. Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve
  3. Limiting contact with cigarette smoke or quitting smoking
  4. Taking good care of medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)

Pneumonia affects people of all ages

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Common signs of pneumonia can include cough, fever, and trouble breathing.

Some people are more likely to get pneumonia

Certain people are more likely to get pneumonia:

  1. Adults 65 years or older
  1. Children younger than 5 years old
  2. People who have ongoing medical conditions
  3. People who smoke cigarettes


Chest x-ray of an adult patient with pneumonia

Causes and types of pneumonia

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. In the United States, common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). These bacteria can cause a wide range of infections—like pneumonia—known as pneumococcal disease.

There are several ways people can get sick with pneumonia:

  1. Community-acquired pneumonia (not in a healthcare setting),
  1. Healthcare-associated pneumonia, and
  2. Ventilator-associated pneumonia

Learn more about the causes of pneumonia.

Pneumococcal vaccine recommendations for older adults

There are two vaccines that help prevent pneumococcal disease among adults 65 years or older. Both vaccines are safe and effective, but they cannot be given at the same time.

Two vaccines offer protection against pneumococcal disease: PCV13 and PPSV23.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)

CDC recommends all adults 65 years or older get a shot of PPSV23.

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)

CDC recommends adults 65 years or older get a shot of PCV13 if they have never received a dose and have a:

  1. Condition that weakens the immune system
  1. Cerebrospinal fluid leak
  2. Cochlear implant

Older adults who have never received a dose and do not have one of the conditions described above may also discuss vaccination with their vaccine provider to decide if PCV13 is appropriate for them.

If you are recommended to or want to receive both vaccines:

  1. Get PCV13 first. Talk to your doctor about when to come back to get PPSV23.
  1. If you’ve already received PPSV23, wait at least a year after that shot before you get PCV13.


 Conditions that weaken the immune system include: chronic renal failure, nephrotic syndrome, immunodeficiency, iatrogenic immunosuppression, generalized malignancy, human immunodeficiency virus, Hodgkin disease, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, solid organ transplants, congenital or acquired asplenia, sickle cell disease, or other hemoglobinopathies.



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