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High-Risk Groups for Flu Complications

​Influenza (flu) viruses can infect anyone, but some groups of people are more at risk for serious complications than other groups.

High-risk groups for the flu are people that develop severe symptoms leading to hospitalization and, in some cases death. These groups should make every effort to get seasonal flu vaccinations to prevent infection.

Contact any Marshfield Clinic Health System location for information on how to get your flu shot.

Note: Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different vir​uses. Because some of the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them, and testing is needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Contact your primary care provider if you have flu-like symptoms to learn the best treatment for you.

High-risk groups for the flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following people are at high risk for developing influenza-related complications:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old
    • Although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at higher risk of serious flu complications, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years old, with the highest hospitalization and death rates among infants younger than 6 months old.
  • Asthma
  • Neurologic and neurodevelopment ​conditions
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Kidney diseases
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or some cancers such as leukemia) or medications (such as those receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer, or persons with chronic conditions requiring chronic corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system)Pregnant people and people up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People from certain racial and ethnic minority groups are at increased risk for hospitalization with flu, including non-Hispanic Black persons, Hispanic or Latino persons, and American Indian or Alaska Native persons
  • People who have had a stroke​




Flu symptoms include:

Fever* or feeling ferverish/chills

Cough

Sore throat

Runny or stuffy nose

Body aches

Headache

Fatigue

Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It's important to note that not everyone with influenza will have a fever.

Note: Because some of the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them, and testing is needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Contact your primary care provider if you have flu-like symptoms to learn the best treatment for you


  Get your flu shot  


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Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP): Pandemic Influenza Update

State of Wisconsin Pandemic Web Site

Flu Webpage Right Rail