Flu Complications: Are You at Risk?

little boy sick with fluFor most people, the flu means aches, fevers, a sore throat, and possibly missing a week of school or work. However, the flu can create serious health problems. Statistics show that:

    • The flu sends more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital each year.
    • An estimated 36,000 people in the United States die from flu-related complications annually.

Who Is Most Likely to Develop Complications?

While everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine, people who fall into the following high-risk groups should be especially vigilant about getting vaccinated early in the fall, before flu season gets into full swing.

Young Children

Children under the age of 5 are at a higher risk of flu complications, and children under 2 years old are the most vulnerable. The flu virus increases the risk of febrile seizures and respiratory infections in young children.

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Vaccine Tips:

  • Children younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to make sure anyone in the household and caregivers or others who have regular contact with the child are vaccinated.
  • Children 6 months through age 8 who are getting vaccinated for the first time should get two doses of the vaccine, with the second dose given at least 28 days after the first dose.
Pregnant Women

Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women, as well as women up to two weeks postpartum, more prone to severe illness from flu. Catching the flu while you are pregnant also increases the risk of problems for the developing baby, including premature labor and delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Vaccine Tips:

  • Flu shots are safe for pregnant women and the developing baby. Research shows the flu shot protects both the mother and baby for several months after birth.
  • Pregnant women should only receive a flu shot, not the nasal spray vaccine.
People with Chronic Medical Conditions 

This includes people who have asthma, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, and other chronic medical conditions.  These medical conditions can make it harder to recover from the flu.

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Vaccine Tip:

  • In addition to the flu vaccine, some patients with chronic medical conditions may also benefit from a pneumococcal vaccine, which can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine. This can help prevent developing pneumonia as a complication of the flu.
Older Adults 

Those over 65 years of age are more likely to develop pneumonia or other complications as a result of the flu. More than 90 percent of deaths caused by pneumonia complications after the flu occur among older adults.

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Vaccine Tips:

  • The high-dose vaccine (Fluzone) is designed for people age 65 and older. The vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen as the regular flu shot and is designed to create a stronger response from the immune system.
Make a Flu Shot Appointment Today

Don’t wait to schedule flu shots for you and your family. LeBauer primary care offices offer flu vaccines for patients, and you can schedule yours today. New patients can complete our online appointment form to see a doctor at any of our seven primary care locations.

If you are a current LeBauer patient, contact your doctor’s office to make your flu shot appointment.

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