The Flu Vaccine and Heart Disease

If you have heart disease, should you get the flu vaccine?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all people 6 months and older receive an annual influenza (flu) vaccine. It is even more important for people with certain conditions who have a higher risk for flu-related complications. People who are at high risk include those with heart disease and those who have had a stroke as well as the following conditions:

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  • Diabetes
  • Chronic lung disease [including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)]
  • Cancer
  • Pregnant women
  • Weakened immune systems (including people with AIDS)
  • Adults 65 and older

There are two kinds of flu vaccines being produced: a flu shot that contains an inactivated vaccine and a nasal spray flu vaccine that contains a weakened but live virus. Patients with cardiovascular conditions should get the flu shot rather than the nasal spray flu vaccine. 

“In rare cases such as allergy to eggs or people with a current fever, it is recommended that you do not receive the flu vaccine, says Benico Barzilai, MD, Section Head of Clinical Cardiology. “If you are at all concerned, talk with your physician before getting your vaccination.”  

Details on Who Should Not Be Vaccinated

Some people should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include people:

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  • With a severe allergy to chicken eggs
  • Who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination
  • With a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to be vaccinated)
  • With a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS)

More Information

Read more about influenza (flu)

Read more about the seasonal flu vaccine

2012 Cleveland Clinic Flu Clinic Schedule

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