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Who Should Get a Flu Shot (influenza vaccine)

Groups At Risk for Complications from Influenza

A yearly flu shot is recommended for the following groups of people who are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu:
  • persons aged >50 years;*
  • residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house persons of any age who have long-term illnesses;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who need regular medical care or had to be in a hospital because of metabolic diseases (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicine or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);
  • children and teenagers (aged 6 months to 18 years) who are on long-term aspirin therapy and therefore could develop Reye Syndrome after the flu; and
  • women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season.

*People 50-64 years of age who do not have chronic (long-term) medical conditions might not be at high risk for serious complications from the flu.  However, about 26% of people aged 50-64 years have high-risk conditions and are at increased risk for flu-related complications.  Beginning in 2000, a flu shot was recommended for all people 50-64 years old each year to increase the number of high-risk 50-64 year olds who get a flu shot.  

Persons Who Can Give the Flu to People Who Are At High Risk for Complications

Persons with the flu can give it to other people. To help prevent flu among people at high risk for complications, the following people should get a flu shot:

  • doctors, nurses, and other employees in hospitals and doctorsí offices, including emergency response workers;
  • employees of nursing homes and long-term care facilities who have contact with patients or residents;
  • employees of assisted living and other residences for people in high-risk groups;
  • people who provide home care to those in high-risk groups; and
  • household members (including children) of people in high-risk groups.
Flu Prevention for the General Population

Anyone who wants to lower their chances of getting the flu (the shot can be administered to children as young as 6 months) can get a flu shot. Persons who provide essential community services (such as police, firemen, etc.) should consider getting a flu shot to minimize disruption of essential activities during flu outbreaks. Students or others in institutional settings (those who reside in dormitories) should be encouraged to get a flu shot.

Who Should Not Get a Flu Shot
The following groups should not get a flu shot before talking with their doctor:
  • People who are have a severe allergy to hensí eggs

  • People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past

  • People who previously developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in the 6 weeks after getting a flu shot

Source: U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- National Center for Infectious Diseases


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Last modified: June 17, 2002