Over the last few years, pneumonia has been accounting for about 20% of mortality annually in Singapore. Vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals) could prevent many of these deaths.
Vaccines can help prevent infection by some of the bacteria and viruses that can cause pneumonia:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- 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. You are encouraged to be up to date with your vaccines.
- Washing your hands regularly
- Cleaning surfaces that are touched a lot
- Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your elbow or sleeve
- Limiting contact with cigarette smoke or quitting smoking
- Managing ongoing medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)
- Adults 65 years or older
- Children younger than 5 years old
- People who have ongoing medical conditions
- People who smoke cigarettes
Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause pneumonia. Common causes of viral pneumonia are influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A common cause of bacterial pneumonia is Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). However, clinicians are not always able to find out which germ caused someone to get sick with pneumonia.
Community-acquired pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia in the community (not in a hospital). Healthcare-associated pneumonia is when someone develops pneumonia during or following a stay in a healthcare facility. Healthcare facilities include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and dialysis centers. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is when someone gets pneumonia after being on a ventilator, a machine that supports breathing. The bacteria and viruses that most commonly cause pneumonia in the community are different from those in healthcare settings.
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.
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)
- People aged 65 years and above
- People aged two to 64 years with diabetes or chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, as well as immunocompromised patients.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)
If you are recommended to or want to receive both vaccines:
- You can get PCV13 first. Talk to your doctor about when to come back to get PPSV23.
- Or if you have received PPSV23, wait at least a year after that shot before you get PCV13.