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Pneumonia prevention

There are vaccines called pneumococcal vaccines which reduce the risk of getting pneumonia.  Pneumococcal vaccines are free in Australia under the National Immunisation Program schedule for people aged 65 years and over, children, and . Adults who are at increased risk of medical complications if they become infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae can be vaccinated with a pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax 23) at a reduced price on the .

Pneumonia can be very serious for some people. The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for:

  • young children
  • people aged 65 and older
  • people with chronic illnesses, including type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, alcohol dependence, heart diseases, kidney disease or lung disease
  • people with kidney failure
  • people with reduced immunity
  • people who have had an organ transplant
  • people who have a spleen that does not work properly or have had their spleen surgically removed
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged between 15 and 49 years, who are medically at risk of infection and the complications of pneumococcal infections
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 2 who live in remote communities.

If you or someone in your care is in one these groups, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about whether vaccination is recommended.

Not smoking will also protect against pneumonia.

If you or someone near you has an infection, you can reduce the risk of passing that infection on by:

  • limiting your exposure to others while unwell
  • washing your hands frequently with soap and water
  • coughing and sneezing into a tissue then throwing it away
  • covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, preferably with your inner elbow
  • keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
  • avoiding sharing food, drink and utensils.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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