The flu vaccine is the best prevention against the flu, which can cause serious health problems.
Who is Most at Risk for Flu?
Those most at risk for complications and serious illness from flu include:
- People with chronic conditions such as asthma (and other respiratory conditions) and diabetes
- People with heart disease and those who have had a stroke
- Adults age 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- Anyone whose immune system is compromised for any reason, including cancer
Paul Edward Sax, MD, an infectious disease doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, urges pregnant women to get the vaccine, for themselves and their unborn babies. “As an infectious disease doctor, I’ve seen pregnant women who are terribly sick with flu, and it’s such a difficult situation because they’re obviously trying to care for themselves and their unborn child,” Dr. Sax says. “Pregnant women really need to get the flu vaccine.”
Over Age 65? Opt for the High Dose
There are now a number of types of flu vaccines. Dr. Sax strongly recommends that people over 65 receive the “high-dose” shot that has been available in recent years. “The data are growing stronger that the high-dose vaccine is actually a better vaccine for older patients — that they get higher protective levels of antibodies and it correlates with reduced clinical events,” he says. “That’s what I do in my practice.”
Be Prepared Before Flu Starts Spreading
The CDC recommends yearly flu vaccines for people 6 months and older. Vaccination by the end of October is encouraged. But if you miss that date, it is still useful to be vaccinated later in the flu season.
Learn more about influenza and the flu vaccine:
- Confused about Flu Vaccinations? Get the Flu Facts
- Five Reasons to Get Your Flu Shot
- For locations near you to get a flu vaccines, visit flu.gov