Insights on Influenza Blog
Mission: To save lives and reduce hospitalizations by protecting children, families, and communities against influenza.
FLU VACCINATION FOR

Adults

It is recommended that all adults get an annual flu vaccine to protect themselves from flu and stop the spread of the virus to their families and communities.

Impact of Flu On Adults

Each flu season, anywhere from 9.3 million - 45 million people suffer with flu illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 people are hospitalized due to flu, and between 12,000 – 61,000 people die each year just in the U.S. The majority of people who bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease tends to be adults.

Between 12,000 – 79,000 deaths from flu in the U.S. every year

Ideally, adults should be vaccinated by the end of October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season.

Kendra was a healthy 35-year-old mother of two when she lost her life to flu.

Read Kendra's Story 

Dangers of Flu in Adults

Flu is a very unpredictable virus and while we can treat the symptoms, the virus must run its course. That’s why even healthy and active adults can suffer with serious illness and complications from flu. For adults who suffer with certain health conditions, whether those conditions are identified or not, the flu can pose an even more severe risk.  Learn more about the various health conditions that can elevate an individual's risk of complications from flu here.

HOSPITALIZATION

An otherwise healthy adult may end up hospitalized and suffer from loss of income, increased medical bills and even permanent health consequences that could have been avoided.


 

Long term health effects of flu

LONG TERM HEALTH EFFECTS

Even months after recovering from flu, adults remain at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or other health disabilities. 

Latasha was a healthy, active 34-year-old when what seemed like a simple illness turned into pneumonia and congestive heart failure brought on by the flu virus.

Read Latasha's Story


 

Benefits of Flu Vaccination in Adults:

Flu vaccination not only reduces our chances of suffering with a flu illness, but also reduces the likelihood of suffering with more serious flu outcomes.


 

Flu vaccination reduces risk of flu illnesses.

In seasons when the vaccine viruses is well matched to circulating strains, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40-60 percent. If you do happen to get sick despite being vaccinated, studies show that vaccination may reduce the severity of disease. 


 

Flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated hospitalization.

In recent years flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among adults by about 40%.

Flu-associated hospitalizations due to flu

A study showed that flu vaccination among adults from 2012 to 2015 reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu by 82%. And if you are hospitalized with flu, another study showed that vaccinated individuals were 59% less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated.


 

Reduce the Spread of Influenza

Flu vaccination reduces the spread of flu.

Getting vaccinated helps ensure you don’t spread flu to others who are vulnerable to serious flu illness, like infants too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women, immunocompromised individuals, older family members, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

To read the stories of adults who have been hospitalized or died from flu, visit our Story Gallery.

Flu Warning Signs

 Emergency Warning Signs of Flu in Adults

People experiencing these warning signs should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsens
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Liza went to the local emergency department when she began to experience difficulty breathing.

Read Liza's Story

Which flu vaccines are recommended for adults?

Generally speaking, adults are able to receive any flu vaccine that is approved for use in their age group. However, there are two vaccines specifically designed for people 65 years of age and older, including a high dose flu vaccine and an adjuvanted flu vaccine.


 

Visit these other pages to learn more:

Page last reviewed: May 2020. 

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