11 Groups Who Shouldn't Skip a Flu Shot

  • Are You at High Risk?
    Most people ages 6 months and older should get a flu shot. It’s the best way to protect against the flu. But if you’re in one of these 11 high-risk groups, it’s especially important to get vaccinated every year. Click on to learn why.

  • 1. Pregnant Women
    Being pregnant puts you at higher risk of serious illness if you get the flu. This is because of changes in your immune system, heart and lungs. The flu can also cause problems for your baby, such as being born too early. Getting a shot not only protects you from the flu, but also can protect your baby for up to 6 months after birth.

  • 2. The Young and the Old
    Children younger than age 5 and adults older than age 50 are both at higher risk of having more serious illness from the flu. These age groups are more likely to need medical care because of the flu. And within these groups, those younger than 2 and older than 65 have the highest risk of flu complications like pneumonia.

  • 3. People With Asthma
    If you have asthma, your airways are already sensitive. The flu can cause asthma flares and make your symptoms worse. People with asthma are also more likely to get pneumonia after a bout of the flu.

  • 4. Caregivers
    When you take care of other people, it’s easy to get the flu—and spread it. If you work in healthcare, or if you take care of young children or older adults, it’s especially important to protect yourself—and those you work with—from the virus.

  • 5. People With Diabetes
    If you have diabetes, getting sick with the flu can raise your blood sugar. Even if your diabetes is under control, you have a higher risk of facing a severe illness if you get the flu because diabetes affects your immune system. This makes it more difficult for you to fight off infections.

  • 6. Children and Teens on Aspirin Therapy
    Those younger than age 19 who are on long-term aspirin therapy are at higher risk of Reye’s syndrome if they get the flu. Reye’s syndrome is a rare but serious illness that can occur when children or teens take aspirin after having the flu or chickenpox.

  • 7. People With a Chronic Illness
    Having a chronic illness or weakened immune system puts you at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu. If you have a chronic illness, such as heart disease, COPD, liver or kidney disease, lung disease, HIV or AIDS, or a neurological disorder, ask your doctor about a flu shot.

  • 8. American Indians and Alaska Natives
    American Indians and Alaska Natives are up to 4 times more likely to get pneumonia from the flu than white Americans. And during the 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, American Indians and Alaska Natives were 4 times more likely to die from the flu.

  • 9. People Who Are Morbidly Obese
    Morbid obesity is having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. After the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, studies found that those who were morbidly obese had a higher risk of serious illness and death of the flu. The exact reason for the higher risk is not known, but it’s possible that the people in the study had unrecognized health conditions, such as diabetes, which carries its own risk of serious illness from the flu.

  • 10. Nursing Home Residents
    The flu can spread like wildfire through nursing homes and other chronic care facilities. Since many residents have other risk factors that make the flu dangerous, it’s important to get a flu shot.

  • 11. People Who Live With People at Risk
    Getting a flu shot not only protects you from the flu, but also protects those around you. If you live with someone who has a high risk of problems from the flu, get vaccinated. It’s especially important if you live with an infant younger than 6 months, since infants can’t get a flu shot.

11 Groups Who Shouldn't Skip a Flu Shot
  1. What You Should Know and Do This Flu Season if You Are 65 Years and Older. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/65over.htm);
  2. Flu and People with Asthma. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/asthma/index.htm);
  3. Flu and People with Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/diabetes/index.htm);
  4. Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/children.htm);
  5. Pregnant Women & Influenza. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.htm);
  6. Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm);
  7. Get Set for Winter Illness Season. Food and Drug Administration. (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM143453.pdf);
  8. NINDS Reye's Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/reyes_syndrome/reyes_syndrome.htm);
  9. Morbid Obesity as a Risk Factor for Hospitalization and Death Due to 2009 Pandemic Influenza A(H1N1) Disease. Morgan OW, et al. PlosOne. 2010;5(3): e9694. (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0009694);
  10. Influenza Vaccination: Reaching American Indian/Alaska Native People. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (http://www.preventinfluenza.org/nivs_2011/3-groom_native_peoples.pdf);

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Last Review Date: 2018 Mar 5
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