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  • At Risk for Flu Complications

    If you or someone you’re close to are at higher risk for flu complications, it’s very important to get a flu shot every year.

    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.

    If you are at higher risk for flu complications should contact their health care provider. An antiviral treatment may be helpful if you experience flu symptoms:

    • Fever.
    • Sore throat.
    • Cough.
    • Muscle aches.

    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.
      • Obesity.

    More information

    Children

    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.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 70-85% of recent flu deaths were people 65 and older. If you are 65 or older, CDC recommends you receive a flu vaccine for seniors (Fluzone High Dose, FluAd, or Flublok Quadrivalent).

    These vaccines may provide better protection. Ask your pharmacist or health care provider for the flu vaccine made for seniors.

    Pregnant women

    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.

    Asthma

    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

    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.

    For more information, contact CDC.

      People with these symptoms should see a healthcare provider right away.

      Children

      • Fast breathing or trouble breathing.
      • Bluish lips or face.
      • Ribs pulling in with each breath.
      • Chest pain.
      • Severe muscle pain—may refuse to walk.
      • Dehydration—no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying.
      • Not alert or interacting when awake.
      • Seizures.
      • Fever over 104°F or any fever in children younger than 12 weeks.
      • Fever or cough that improves but then comes back or gets worse.
      • Chronic medical condition gets worse.

      Adults

      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
      • Persistent pain or pressure in chest or abdomen.
      • Persistent dizziness, confusion or inability to wake.
      • Seizures.
      • No urinating.
      • Severe muscle pain.
      • Fever or cough that improves but then comes back or gets worse.
      • Chronic medical condition gets worse.