Who Is at Risk

People at Greatest Risk of Severe Illness From the Flu

Most people who get the flu will have only mild illness. They will not need medical care.

However, some people may have complications from the flu. People with higher risk should talk to a physician or advanced practice provider about whether they need to be examined and treated if they get sick with flu-like symptoms.

People at highest risk include:

  • Children under age 5, especially those younger than 2
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who have chronic health conditions, including:
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney disorders
    • Liver disorders
    • Neurological disorders (including nervous system, brain and spinal cord)
    • Neuromuscular disorders (including muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis)

Others who should also be extra careful to protect themselves during flu season:

  • People who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • Family members of those who cannot get the flu vaccine because they are too young or have a history of negative reactions to the vaccine
  • People who have had an organ transplant
  • People with any of the following conditions:
    • Cancer
    • Chronic lung disease, including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Blood disorders (including sickle cell disease)
    • Heart disease
    • Weakened immune systems (including people with AIDS)

Anyone, whether they have existing health conditions or not, can develop severe illness from the flu. Anyone concerned about symptoms, discomfort or illness should consult a physician or advanced practice provider.