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Who Should Get the Flu Shot? Who Shouldn’t?

By HERWriter
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Who Should Get the Flu Shot? And Who Shouldn’t? BVDC/Fotolia

No one likes to get sick. And getting the flu can be particularly miserable. The flu, also called influenza, is a respiratory infection that can wreak havoc on the body.

One way to try to avoid the flu is by getting an annual flu vaccine.

The Mayo Clinic website explained that the reason you should get a new vaccine every year is because flu viruses quickly adapt to the vaccines and can be immune to them. New flu vaccines are created every year to keep up with these evolving viruses.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website recommends that Americans, ages six months and older, get an annual flu vaccine, but there are instances where people can’t or shouldn’t get the flu shot.

People who are at a higher risk from complications from the flu should definitely get an annual flu vaccine. KidsHealth.org wrote that these include pregnant women, kids younger than age five, people age 65 and older, and people who suffer from chronic medical conditions.

The Mayo Clinic said that chronic medical conditions include asthma, cancer or cancer treatment, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney or liver disease, and obesity.

There are different flu shots for different types of people. A five-year-old may not get the same flu shot as a pregnant woman or someone with liver disease.

Who shouldn't get a flu shot?

The CDC said that children who are younger than six months of age are too young for a flu vaccine. Others who shouldn’t get a flu shot are people with “severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine.” The vaccine can contain ingredients like gelatin, antibiotics or eggs.

The Mayo Clinic suggested that even if you have an egg allergy or sensitivity, you may still be able to get a flu shot. Talk to your doctor about what special precautions you may need to take. In some instances, it could be as simple as waiting 30 minutes at the doctor’s office after getting the vaccine to see if you have an adverse reaction.

There are also Food and Drug Administration approved flu vaccines that aren’t made with eggs. These are approved for people who are 18 and older. Your doctor can explain your options when it comes to these vaccines.

If you’ve had an adverse or severe reaction in the past to a flu vaccine, then the flu shot isn’t recommended for you, said the Mayo Clinic. But first talk with your doctor. There can be many instances where the apparent reactions have nothing to do with the flu vaccine.

Some people with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS) should not get this vaccine, but see what your doctor says. Also, If you are not feeling well your doctor may suggest waiting.

The bottom line? Talk with your doctor about which flu vaccine options are best for you and your family.


"Influenza (flu)." Flu Shot: Your Best Bet for Avoiding Influenza. Web. 21 Dec. 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000.

"Get the Flu Vaccine, Reduce Your Risk of Death - Harvard Health Blog." Harvard Health Blog RSS. 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2015. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/get-the-flu-vaccine-reduce-your-risk-of-death-201509158274.

"Vaccination: Who Should Do It, Who Should Not and Who Should Take Precautions." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm.

"Who Needs a Flu Shot?" KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. The Nemours Foundation, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2015. http://kidshealth.org/kid/h1n1_center/flu-basics/flu_shot.html.

Reviewed January 3, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Keywords: the flu, liver disease, annual flu vaccine, chronic medical conditions, eggs

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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