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 with the following conditions are at increased risk of flu-related complications:2
- neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
- chronic lung disease
- heart disease or had a stroke
- blood disorders
- endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes)
- kidney disorders
- liver disorders
- metabolic disorders
- weakened immune system due to disease or medication (e.g., people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
- people younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin therapy
- people with extreme obesity (BMI of 40 or more)
People with a chronic health condition(s) are at increased risk from flu and associated complications. Some people may not even be aware that they have a chronic health condition. That's why annual flu vaccination is so important for everyone six months of age and older. 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
- permanent physical decline or loss of independence
- 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
- permanent physical decline and loss of independence
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 2020.