High-Risk Groups for Influenza: Who Needs Extra Protection

Do you need to take a flu shot in 2024? Well, technically yes. This vaccine not only protects you but people who you encounter. Every year, government officials and healthcare providers encourage people to get flu shots to protect themselves from the influenza virus. These shots are amazingly effective against the flu if taken according to their scheduled time. Talk to a specialist for infectious diseases if you have any concerns.

Flu is a viral infection caused by influenza viruses that attack your respiratory system. It is transmissible (by coming in contact with air droplets of infected people through coughs, sneezes, or talking). While for some people it heals on its own, at times it can be deadly. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine.

Who should get a flu shot?

According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), anyone above the age of 6 months should get vaccinated. And it’s more important if you’re at elevated risk for developing complications of the flu- if your work makes you go to the general public, or if you work as a caregiver of high-risk individuals. During flu season, these people groups who are at substantial risk of developing the flu should get vaccinated:

  • Children (who are 2 years old or younger).
  • Adults (65 years of age or older).
  • People who live in care facilities.
  • People who have weak immune systems.
  • Certain ethnicities (such as American Indians or Alaska natives).
  • Pregnant women/those who gave birth (in the past two weeks).
  • People with an egg allergy can get a flu shot with different ingredients.

People with chronic illnesses are considered high-risk because these illnesses increase the chances of serious flu complications, including:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic lung diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cystic fibrosis).
  • Neurological conditions.
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic disorders.
  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease or anemia.
  • Obesity
  • Kidney or liver problems
  • People with weakened immune systems due to illness or medication.

Who shouldn’t get a flu shot?

While anyone can get a flu shot, it is not meant for everyone. Certain groups or individuals should not get a flu shot if:

  • You developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) after receiving the first flu vaccine shot.
  • Have moderate to severe cold symptoms at the time of vaccination. However, they can take vaccination after 1- or 2-months gap after consulting with the doctor.
  • Infants under 6 months of age.
  • Had any other vaccine shot in the past 4 weeks (vaccine interaction can affect their effectiveness).
  • Severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past.
  • Having a severe allergy to any vaccine component, not just egg protein.

If you’re planning to take the nasal spray flu vaccine it is only given to young and healthy adults who are not pregnant. Besides the above-mentioned people who shouldn’t receive a flu shot, these adults also do not take the nasal spray flu shot if they are:

  • Pregnant
  • Age 50 or above
  • Have a weak immune system due to chronic disease or certain medical treatments.
  • Have chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney, or heart disease.
  • Having muscular or neurological conditions that cause problems in breathing or swallowing due to epilepsy or cerebral palsy.
  • People who have weak immune systems.
  • Having a nasal condition that makes your breathing difficult.

Flu vaccine should be taken by everyone usually before flu season to protect themselves and others. While it’s not perfect and won’t always prevent the illness completely but vaccinated people get significantly minor symptoms and are very less likely to develop serious complications due to the virus. Before taking the flu vaccine, you can consult with your healthcare provider about whether the flu vaccine is right for you or your family to prevent its side effects.

Want to learn more about flu vaccine, Visit our team of Specialists for infectious diseases at Doral Health & Wellness on 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11212. Call us on +1-347-384-5690 to get a free consultation from our clinic Or log on to www.doralhw.org