Chronic Conditions That Put You At High Risk for Flu Complications

Many conditions can put you at high risk for flu complications. Adam Gault/SPL/Getty Images

Most people who get the flu will recover without complications. Healthy young people and adults typically do not experience severe illness or hospitalization when they get the flu.

However, this isn't the case for everyone. Certain people are at high risk for complications. These include:

  • Older adults over the age of 65
  • Young children under 5, but especially under age 2
  • Pregnant women and those who have given birth in the past 2 weeks
  • Those who live in nursing homes or long term care facilities
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People with chronic health conditions

There are a lot of health issues that people deal with on a long term basis. Not all of them put you at high risk for complications from the flu. However, the list of chronic health conditions that do put you at high risk is pretty long. 

Chronic health conditions that put you at high risk for flu complications may include:

  • Lung conditions: asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis
  • Heart problems: congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease
  • Blood disorders: sickle cell disease, blood cancers
  • Endocrine disorders: diabetes mellitus (Type 2 diabetes)
  • Neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delays, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders: inherited or mitochondrial disorders
  • Immune system problems: HIV/AIDS, cancer, those taking long term steroids
  • People under age 19 taking long term aspirin therapy
  • Morbid obesity (BMI 40 or greater)

This is not a complete list. If you have any medical condition that you think could fit into one of these categories or you are not sure if your health condition places you at high risk for complications from the flu, talk to your health care provider.


If you are at high risk, you should get a flu vaccine every year. If you get the flu, contact your health care provider as soon as possible to determine what your treatment options are and to start antiviral medications if appropriate. 

A vast majority of people that die from the flu each year fall into one of these high risk categories. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the flu isn't serious or that it won't affect you. Protect yourself and those you care about. 


"People at High Risk of Developing Flu-Related Complications". Specific Groups. Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 8 Jan 15. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 13 Mar 15. 

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