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Influenza Vaccine (Flu Shot and Nasal Spray) for Adults

Which Adults Should Get a Flu Vaccine?

The CDC recommends that adults receive a flu vaccine every year, especially those who are at high risk for developing flu-related complications and those who care for or live with such people, such as health care workers.

You are more likely to develop serious flu-related complications and should get a flu vaccine if you have:

  • Asthma (even if it's mild or controlled) or other lung disease
  • Brain, spinal cord, or nerve disorders or injury such as stroke, epilepsy, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or spinal cord injury
  • Diabetes and other endocrine disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney disease or damage
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease or damage
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or greater)
  • Sickle cell disease and other blood disorders
  • A weakened immune system due to certain diseases or medical treatments

Your risk of developing flu-related complications is also increased if you are:

  • Older than 50
  • Pregnant
  • American Indian or Alaskan Native

You should also get a flu vaccine if you live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

Which Adults Should Not Get the Flu Vaccine?

You should NOT get the influenza vaccine if you:

  • Developed Guillain-Barre syndrome within six weeks of receiving the flu vaccine in the past
  • Had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past
  • Have a severe allergy to any vaccine component

It's long been advised that people with allergies to eggs should not get the flu shot. However, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says the vaccine contains such a low amount of egg protein that it's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction in those with an egg allergy. If you have a severe egg allergy (anaphylaxis), talk to your doctor before getting the flu vaccine. Also, as mentioned above, flu vaccines not made with the use of eggs are available.  

The nasal spray flu vaccine can only be used in healthy, younger adults who are not pregnant. In addition to the previously listed adults who should not receive the flu shot, adults should NOT get the nasal spray influenza vaccine if they:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are age 50 or older
  • Have a weakened immune system due to disease or certain medical treatments
  • Have a long-term health condition, such as those with diabetes, kidney disease, or heart or lung disease, including asthma
  • Have a muscle or nerve condition that can cause problems with breathing or swallowing (such as epilepsy or cerebral palsy)
  • Have a nasal condition that could make breathing difficult

You should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine if you are in contact with people who have a severely weakened immune system.

If you are moderately to severely ill, your doctor may recommend waiting to get the shot until after you recover. The CDC says you can still get the vaccine if you have a mild illness, such as a cold or low-grade fever.

If you have a stuffy nose, your doctor may recommend that you wait to get the nasal spray flu vaccine, or get the flu shot instead.

WebMD Medical Reference

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