Anyone anywhere can catch influenza and the influenza vaccine can be administered to any person aged 6 months or older to reduce the chance of getting influenza, or to reduce the severity and consequences of the disease. Yet, national and international health authorities worldwide recommend that the influenza vaccine be given to protect people who are most likely to have serious health problems if they get influenza. These include:
- Elderly people: depending on the country, people above 50, 55, 60, 65, and 70 years of age are included.
- Adults and children over six months of age who have a chronic heart or lung disease.
- Adults and children over six months of age having required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of a chronic metabolic disease (such as diabetes), kidney disease, blood disorder, or weakened immune system (including people with HIV/AIDS).
- Pregnant women are often also considered to be a high risk group.
- Vaccination of young healthy children is officially recommended and implemented in various countries, including the US, Canada and Finland.
Vaccination is also strongly recommended for people who may transmit influenza to those at high risk. Decreasing the transmission of influenza from caregivers and household contacts will reduce influenza-related deaths among those at high risk.