Preventing Pneumonia

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The following measures are key factors in preventing community-acquired pneumonia (CAP):


Pneumococcal vaccine. There are approximately 98 different strains of pneumococcus bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae). PCV13 vaccine protects against 13 different strains of pneumococcus bacteria, while PPSV23 provides protection against 23 different serotypes.

PCV13 vaccine is recommended for the following individuals:

  • All adults aged 65 or over.
  • Adults aged 19 or over and who have certain illnesses.

PPSV23 vaccine is recommended for the following individuals:

  • All adults aged 65 or over.
  • Adults aged from 19 to 64 years and who have certain illnesses or are active smokers.

It is important to remember that the PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines should not be co-administered. Patients indicated both vaccines should receive the PCV13 vaccination first, followed by the PPSV23 vaccine approximately 6 months later.

Vaccination and a calendar

Flu or influenza vaccine. Flu, or influenza, is a disease that can sometimes lead to hospitalisation and occasionally even cause death. In Spain, the flu season runs from the end of autumn until the start of spring. It generally affects 1–5% of the population; however, epidemics can affect up to 40–50% of those aged over 65.

Flu virus antibodies can already be detected roughly 2 weeks after administering a flu vaccine. These antibodies provide protection against infection from the viruses included in the vaccine. The flu vaccine can prevent influenza in 70–90% of otherwise healthy people aged over 65.

The vaccine must be administered to all individuals presenting an increased risk of complications (the elderly, people with chronic diseases, pregnant women) or healthy people who are in close contact with those who are at risk of developing influenza (e.g., healthcare personnel).

Anyone with an egg allergy should talk with their primary care physician before getting vaccinated.

Cigarette crossed out on a "no smoking" poster

Stop smoking. Smoking equates to a 4‑fold increase in the rate of CAP. In young patients, smoking increases the risk of suffering from invasive CAP (bacteraemia). Quitting smoking halves the risk of CAP in the next 5 years.

Beer mug and wine glass

Consume less alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with a greater risk of developing a more severe case of pneumonia because it affects vital parts of the immune system. What is more, alcoholics often develop liver damage and malnutrition, which both increase the risk of pneumonia.

Apple with a "tic"

Ensure an adequate nutritional status. Malnutrition not only elevates the possibility of contracting pneumonia but also increases the chance that a pneumonia infection will have a fatal outcome. Efforts to ensure appropriate nutritional status are very important when preventing infections such as pneumonia.

A baby and an old man with a cane

Avoid contact with sick children. Try to avoid contact with sick children, especially any with a respiratory infection. This recommendation is aimed especially at unvaccinated elderly adults and those  who suffer from a chronic disease that makes them more vulnerable to infections.


Toothbrush, toothpaste and shiny teeth

Mantener una adecuada higiene bucal. Una mala higiene bucal incrementa el riesgo de tener una neumonía. La mala higiene bucal contribuye a la formación de placa y colonización de la boca por microorganismos que pueden alcanzar los pulmones cuando ocurren microaspiraciones. La mayoría de los estudios que demuestran esta asociación entre la mala higiene bucal y el riesgo de neumonía, se han enfocado especialmente en el paciente adulto mayor y en aquellas personas que están en una residencia. Por ello, se recomienda a estas poblaciones en especial, la visita al dentista, como mínimo una vez al año.

Substantiated information by:

Antoni Torres Martí
Juan Roselló Sáncho

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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