November 28, 2015
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Pneumonia Facts (cont.)

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What is the prognosis of pneumonia?

Most people with pneumonia improve after three to five days of antibiotic treatment, but a mild cough and fatigue can last longer, up to a month. Patients who required treatment in a hospital may take longer to see improvement.

Pneumonia can also be fatal. The mortality (death) rate is up to 30% for patients with severe pneumonia who require treatment in an intensive-care unit. Overall, around 5%-10% of patients who are treated in a hospital setting die from the disease. Pneumonia is more likely to be fatal in the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions or a weakened immune system.

Is it possible to prevent pneumonia? Is there a pneumonia vaccine?

It is not possible to prevent all types of pneumonia, but one can take steps to reduce the chance of contracting the condition by quitting smoking, practicing good hand-washing, and avoiding contact with people who have colds, the flu, or other infections.

A vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, Streptococcus pneumoniae (also known as Pneumococcus). There are two types of vaccine: PPSV23, a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine against 23 types of the bacteria, and PCV13, a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 types of the bacteria. These vaccines may not always prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but they may prevent serious complications of pneumonia if it does occur.

It is recommended now that all adults over 65 receive doses of each vaccine, starting with PCV13 and followed by PCV23 within six months to 1 year. PPSV23 is recommended for all people over age 65 and all people over age 2 who are at risk for pneumonia (who have a weakened immune system or certain chronic conditions). Adults aged 19-65 with asthma or who smoke cigarettes should also receive the PPSV23. The PCV13 vaccine is recommended for all infants and for young children who did not receive it earlier in life, for adults over 65 in combination with the PCV23, and for adults with a weakened immune system or certain other risk factors.

Seasonal influenza vaccines are available yearly and are recommended to decrease the chance of contracting influenza. Vaccines against the measles virus and varicella virus, two viruses that can also cause pneumonia, are also available.

Avoidance of areas where fungal pathogens are endemic is recommended to prevent fungal pneumonias. There is no antifungal vaccine available; however, for some high-risk patients, some clinicians have recommended prophylactic antifungal drugs.


American Lung Association. "Pneumonia Fact Sheet." <>.

"Healthcare-Associated Pneumonia." <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Pneumonia." Apr. 5, 2013. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Pneumonia." Feb. 25, 2015. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Pneumococcal Vaccination: Who Needs It?" Sept. 12, 2013. <>.

United States. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "Types of Pneumonia." Mar. 1, 2011. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/4/2015


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