According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) certain groups are more susceptible to the Flu becoming a serious health risk...
The Flu Can Be Serious
Influenza, commonly called the "flu," is a contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system—your nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.
Flu activity is low in the United States, but CDC has received reports of early outbreaks in institutions across the country. Most of these outbreaks have been attributed to H3N2 viruses. Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every season.
The CDC says that Children younger than 5 (but especially children younger than 2 years old,) Adults 65 years of age and older, Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum,) Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and American / Alaskan Native Americans have higher risk.
Further, the CDC explains that people who have certain chronic medical conditions such as Asthma, Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury] may be higher risk. Also, individuals with Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis), Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease), Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus), Kidney disorders, Liver disorders, Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders), Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids) need take special precautions.
People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving aspirin therapy and People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater are also at special elevated risk of Flu and complications.
Flu-Related Complications Can Affect You
Millions of Americans are impacted by chronic health conditions, but many people aren't aware that they have these conditions. For example, diabetes affects about 29 million Americans, but it is estimated that 1 in 4 people with the disease don't even know they have it. It's important to ask your doctor whether you have a health condition that makes you more vulnerable to complications from the flu. In addition to those with chronic health conditions, many others are at high risk for flu complications because of their age or other factors.
Consider these facts:
During the 2014-2015 flu season, about half of adults hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza had heart disease.
In pregnant women, changes in the immune system, heart and lungs make them prone to more severe illness from flu. In addition, a flu-infected pregnant woman also has an increased chance of miscarriage or preterm birth.
In the United States, each year an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized because of flu complications.
As reported during the 2014-2015 flu season, 146 children died from flu-related causes.
Past data indicate that 80-85% of flu-related deaths in children 6 months and older, occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccine.
In recent years, it's estimated that between 80 and 90% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50 and 70%of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group. If you are currently living with a chronic health condition like heart disease, diabetes or asthma, certain behaviors are probably part of your daily routine, like watching your diet or glucose levels, taking your prescribed medications or keeping your inhaler on-hand. Make an annual flu vaccination another part of your health management routine—it's your best defense against the flu and its related complications. Since the flu is contagious, it's also important that all of your close contacts are vaccinated.
If you are at high risk for flu complications, be sure to ask your doctor about getting a pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia, which is a possible complication of flu illness. Pneumococcal vaccine can be given at any time during the year and may be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.