People at High Risk For Flu Complications

Adults over 65

Adults 65 & Over

pregnant women touching their stomachs

Pregnant Women

Heart disease-stethoscope and heart

People Living with Heart Disease

Asthma-doctor and patient

People Living with Asthma

Young children playing

Young Children

Most people who get sick with flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. Flu also can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have flu and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu. Below are the groups of people who are more likely to get serious flu-related complications if they get sick with flu.

Information for Specific High Risk Groups

Following is a list of all the health and age factors that are known to increase a person’s risk of getting serious complications from the flu:
  • 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 disorders
  • 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 of age 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)

Other people at high risk from the flu:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old1
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • 1 Although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at high risk for 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.
Materials for other special groups