According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all persons 6 months of age or older should receive the flu vaccine each year. When vaccine supplies are limited, the CDC recommends that vaccination efforts focus on the following people who are at high risk for complications from the flu:

  • Children 6 months to 4 years of age
  • Adults over the age of 50
  • People with chronic conditions including asthma, cardiovascular disease (except hypertension), and certain disorders of the kidneys, liver, nervous system, blood or metabolic system (including diabetes)
  • People with immune system disorders (such as HIV/AIDS) and those with immunosuppression caused by medication (e.g., chemotherapy)
  • Women who are or will be pregnant during flu season
  • Children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years who are undergoing long-term aspirin therapy (at higher risk for Reye syndrome following the flu)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other facilities that provide long-term care
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives
  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher (morbidly obese)
  • Health care providers
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 50 (especially contacts of children younger than 6 months of age)
  • Household contacts and caregivers of children and adults with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza

According to the CDC people who should not receive the flu vaccine without consulting a physician include the following:

  • People who have a severe allergy to eggs (In 2011, the CDC re-evaluated this recommendation. As of August 26, 2011, some people with mild egg allergy may receive the seasonal flu vaccine under the care of their physician.) Talk to your doctor.
  • People who have had a past severe reaction to the flu vaccine
  • People with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)
  • People who currently have an illness with fever
  • People under the age of 65 should not receive a high-dose flu shot
  • People under the age of 18 or over the age of 64 should not receive an intradermal flu shot

The following people should not receive the nasal flu vaccine (LAIV) without talking to their doctor:

  • Children between 6 and 23 months of age and adults over the age of 50
  • People who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or to the vaccine in the past
  • People with asthma and children under the age of 5 who have had one or more episodes of wheezing within the past year
  • Women who are pregnant
  • People with certain nerve or muscle disorders, including cerebral palsy and epilepsy
  • People with a weakened immune system
  • Close contacts of people with a severely weakened immune system who require care in a protective environment, such as a bone marrow transplant unit
  • Children under the age of 18 who are on long-term aspirin therapy
  • People with a moderate or severe illness or anyone with a nasal condition that makes it hard to breathe, such as a very stuffy nose
  • People with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)

Talk to your health care provider before getting a flu vaccine if you have received any other immunizations within the past 4 weeks.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 02 Aug 2007

Last Modified: 04 Dec 2014