Flu vaccine is widely available, and Oregon Public Health recommends that everyone get vaccinated. Vaccination is especially important if you're in one of these groups:
- Everyone over 6 months of age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease
- Pregnant women
- People aged 6 months to 18 years
- Household contacts and caretakers of infants under 6 months of age
- Healthcare workers and emergency services personnel
People with underlying health conditions
People in this group are more likely to develop health complications if they get the flu. Underlying health conditions include asthma and diabetes (even if well-managed); chronic lung disorders; suppressed immune systems; heart, liver, kidney or blood disease; or certain neuro-muscular conditions. Ask your healthcare provider if you're not sure this applies to you.
Pregnant women are also more likely to develop serious health complications if they get the flu, and if vaccinated they may be able to provide protection to their babies, who cannot be vaccinated until they're 6 months old.
Everyone from 6 months through 18 years of age
Children and young adults from 6 months through 18 years of age should be vaccinated because there have been many cases reported in this group. This is most likely because they are in close contact with each other in schools and daycare settings, increasing the likelihood of disease spread. People in this age group also tend to socialize more and move frequently, both of which increase the likelihood of disease spread.
People who have frequent contact with children younger than 6 months of age
Infants less than 6 months old cannot be vaccinated and are at higher risk of influenza-related complications. Vaccination of those in close contact with infants less than 6 months old may help protect infants by limiting their exposure to the virus.
Healthcare and emergency services personnel
Reducing infections among healthcare workers may reduce the spread of flu to vulnerable patients. It's also important to decrease flu-related absenteeism among healthcare professionals during times when the capacity of the healthcare system is under strain. People in this category include physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, technicians, emergency medical service personnel, dental personnel, pharmacists, laboratory personnel, autopsy personnel, students and trainees, contractual staff at health care facilities, and people who may not be directly involved in patient care but are exposed to disease (for example, janitorial staff or food service workers in hospitals). Emergency services personnel include people who provide emergency care as part of their normal job duties (e.g., emergency medical technicians, law enforcement, fire fighters, correctional officers and active military personnel).