Who should get the flu vaccine?

According to the CDC, everyone 6 months and older should get the annual flu vaccination, with rare exception (1). Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Even those who develop less severe symptoms can become infected and pass the flu to those at high risk for developing flu-related complications. The flu is more dangerous for some groups than others. The CDC has identified a number of high risk groups, including those listed below.

People at High Risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications (2):

Vaccination is especially important for these high risk groups because the risk of health complications are worse for them if they get the flu. However, the best way to protect our entire community is for as many of us as possible to get vaccinated, so that we can develop herd immunity. Herd immunity, depicted below in a figure from the NIAID, is when a large enough portion of a community gets vaccinated that it becomes difficult for the disease to spread and as a result there is less chance for an outbreak. Herd immunity even offers a degree of protection to those members of the community who are not able to get the vaccine (for example, because they are under 6 months of age or have an allergy to a vaccine component) because it contains the spread of contagious disease. (3)

Community Immunity ("Herd" Immunity), image by NIAID

Community Immunity (“Herd” Immunity), image by NIAID

(1) http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm#flu-shot

(2) http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm

(3) http://www.vaccines.gov/basics/protection/


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