FLU VACCINATION FOR
People With Certain Health Conditions
Individuals living with certain health conditions, even when these conditions are well-controlled, are at greater risk of flu complications, including hospitalization, catastrophic disability, and even death.
Six in ten adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease and four in ten adults have two or more.1 However, people of all ages that suffer from the following conditions are at increased risk of flu-related complications:2
- neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
- chronic lung disease (COPD, cystic fibrosis)
- heart disease (congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease)
- chronic kidney disease
- sickle cell disease
- people younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin therapy
- people with extreme obesity (BMI of 40 or more)
- people receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
- inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders
- people with chronic conditions requiring chronic corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system
People with chronic health conditions are at increased risk of flu and associated complications. If you have one of these conditions, ask your doctor which flu vaccine is right for you.
Some of the more common conditions that can elevate risk of flu include:
- 6x increased risk of hospitalization4
- increased risk of heart attack or stroke5
- worsening of diabetic conditions (poor glycemic control and acidosis) due to lack of appetite and difficulty controlling blood sugar. Reduced appetite can cause blood sugar levels to fall.5
- increased risk of renal and cardiovascular disease issues6
- 3x higher risk of death due to flu infection7
Approximately half of Americans have some form of heart disease8, which puts them at high risk of the following flu-related complications:
- 10x increased risk of heart attack within 1-3 days of flu infection9
- inflammation in the body that leads to an increased risk of heart attack weeks after acute flu infection10
Approximately 12% of patients hospitalized with flu experience sudden, serious heart complications12. On average, as many as 1 in 5 heart failure hospitalizations appear to be triggered by the flu during the months when influenza viruses are circulating widely13.
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of heart attack by 15 – 45% for people with heart disease. Flu vaccination can be equally or even more effective at preventing heart attacks than other behavioral modifications or medications such as statins (19-30%), antihypertensive therapy (17-25%), and smoking cessation (32-43%)18
People with conditions such as lung disease, heart disease (except isolated hypertension), kidney disease (like diabetes), kidney or liver disorders, neurologic/neuromuscular, or metabolic disorders should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV). Ask your doctor which flu vaccine is right for you.
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Page last reviewed: September 2021.