For your best chance at flu prevention, most people can benefit from getting a flu shot every year, but certain groups of people need it more than others. Currently, the recommendations are that everyone over the age of 6 months should have an annual flu vaccine. It is especially important for people in certain high risk groups, including:
- Children ages 6 months to 18 years
- Adults over the age of 50
- Anyone with a chronic illness such as asthma, heart disease or HIV and those with weakened immune systems
- Family members or caregivers of infants under 6 months old and people with severely compromised immune systems
- Women who are pregnant or will be pregnant during flu season
- Health care workers and people who work in direct contact with the public, such as firefighters, police officers and paramedics
A few groups of people should not get a flu shot. These include:
- People with a severe allergy to eggs - talk to your health care provider or allergist to determine if the vaccine is safe for you. Typical egg allergies are no longer a reason to avoid the flu vaccine.
- Anyone who has had a serious allergic reaction to a flu shot before
- Infants under 6 months old
- People with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome within 6 weeks of getting a flu shot
- Anyone who has a fever at the time of vaccination
- Those with severely compromised immune systems (such as after a bone marrow or organ transplant) should speak with their doctor about the benefits and risks of a flu vaccine
If you have any question about whether or not a flu vaccine is right for you, discuss it with your healthcare provider.
For more tips on flu prevention, check:
”Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.” Seasonal Flu 16 July 08. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 30 July 08.