Who is at Risk

Who is at the Greatest Risk from the Flu?

Most people who get the flu will have only mild illness and will not need medical care. However, some people may experience flu complications. Those individuals should talk to a healthcare provider about getting vaccinated and whether they need to be examined and treated if they get sick with flu-like symptoms. These high-risk groups are:

  • Children younger than five years, but especially children younger than two years old
  • People 65 years and older
  • People who have chronic conditions including diabetes, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders (including nervous system, brain and spinal cord), neuromuscular disorders (including muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis)

Northwestern Medicine recommends that certain patient populations take special precautions during flu season, including:

  • Women 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
  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Patients with:
    • 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 are healthy or not, can develop severe illness from the flu. Anyone concerned about symptoms, discomfort or illness should consult a healthcare provider.

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