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Pneumonia prevention

4-minute read

Vaccinations can help prevent some types of pneumonia. Pneumonia can be very serious for some people. It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about whether vaccination is recommended for you or for your children.

One vaccination that reduces the risk of pneumonia is the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumococcal vaccines are free in Australia under the National Immunisation Program for babies at 2, 4 and 12 months. They are also free for people considered to be at risk of getting pneumococcal disease, including people aged 65 years and over, children with chronic medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 or who have certain medical conditions.

Pneumonia vaccine

Vaccination is your best protection against pneumonia. This table explains how the vaccine is given, who should get it, and whether it is on the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Some diseases can be prevented with different vaccines, so talk to your doctor about which one is appropriate for you.

What age is it recommended?

2, 4 and 12 months.

Over 65 (or over 50 if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander).

Any age if you have medical conditions that put you at risk of pneumococcal disease.

How many doses are required? 3
How is it administered? Injection
Is it free?

Free for:

  • all children aged 2 months, 4 months and 12 months
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 6 months who live in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia or South Australia, in addition to the routine 2 month, 4 month and 12 month vaccine
  • children who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of getting serious pneumococcal disease, when they are 6 months old and 4 years old, in addition to the routine 2 month, 4 month and 12 month vaccine
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk, when they are aged 15 years or over
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or over
  • all non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 years or over
  • children, adolescents and adults who have certain medical conditions that put them at higher risk

For everyone else, there is a cost for the vaccine.

Find out more on the Department of Health website and the National Immunisation Program Schedule, and ask your doctor if you are eligible for additional free vaccines based on your situation or location.

Common side effects The vaccine is very safe. Side effects may include pain, redness and swelling where the needle went in, fever, feeling irritable, feeling drowsy, reduced appetite or body aches.

You can also consider getting vaccinated against influenza. Pneumonia is one of the possible complications of influenza. A new influenza vaccine is available every year. It’s free to some people who are at increased risk, including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with certain medical conditions. For more information about the influenza vaccine, visit the Department of Health website.

Vaccination can also prevent other illnesses that can lead to pneumonia. These are all available for children as part of routine childhood vaccinations in Australia under the National Immunisation Program Schedule and include:

Not smoking will also protect against pneumonia. Eating healthily and keeping your immune system strong are other ways of protecting your health.

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

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2019

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