The flu can make some people very sick.
Everyone over 6 months old should get a flu shot. It’s the best protection against the flu.
If any of the following apply to you—or someone you’re close to—it’s very important to get a flu shot every year.
At higher risk for flu complications
- Children under 5—especially those under 2.
- Adults over 64.
- People staying in a long-term care facility.
- American Indian or Alaska Native people.
- Women who are pregnant or gave birth in the last 2 weeks.
- People under 19 who take long-term aspirin or salicylate medication.
- People with health conditions, like:
- Chronic lung disease—like asthma, COPD or cystic fibrosis.
- Heart disease—like congestive heart failure or coronary artery disease.
- Neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions—like stroke.
- Endocrine disorders—like diabetes.
- Weakened immune system due to disease (like HIV/AIDS or leukemia) or medications (like chemotherapy, radiation treatment or corticosteroids).
- Blood disorders—like sickle cell disease.
- Kidney or liver disorders.
- Metabolic disorders.
Children under 5—especially those under 2—are at higher risk for flu complications. Even healthy children are at higher risk, just because of their age.
The best way to protect children is to get them immunized as soon as they’re 6 months old. And for the people around them to get immunized, too.
Adults over 64
The flu is very serious for older people. As we age, our immune systems don’t work as well. This puts over 64 at higher risk for flu complications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 70-85% of recent flu deaths were people over 65. A special high-dose flu vaccine is available for people over age 65. Ask your healthcare if it's right for you.
Pregnancy makes women more likely to get very sick from the flu and end up in the hospital. When a pregnant woman gets the flu, it may endanger her baby, too.
When a pregnant woman gets a flu shot, it protects her and her baby. Babies can’t get a flu shot until they’re 6 months old. But when mom gets a flu shot while pregnant, she passes the protection on to her baby, too.
American Indian or Alaska Native people
American Indian or Alaska Native people are more likely to die from flu. American Indian or Alaska Native children who get the flu are more likely to end up in the hospital or die. Flu and pneumonia are among the top 10 causes of death for American Indian or Alaska Native people.
Even if your asthma is well controlled, you are still at higher risk for flu complications. The flu can lead to worsening asthma symptoms, pneumonia and other respiratory illness. People with asthma are more likely to become ill with pneumonia after getting the flu.
Diabetes makes you more likely to suffer flu complications, even if your diabetes is well controlled. The flu can also make your diabetes worse, because the flu can make it harder to control your blood sugar. If you get the flu, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s sick day guidelines.
Heart disease and stroke
Flu is associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. One study found the risk of heart attack was 6 times higher within a week of being diagnosed with flu. Vaccination is associated with lower rates of cardiac events in people with heart disease.