Who Needs a Swine Flu Shot?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2018
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Pregnant women, patients suffering from heart and lung disease, and individuals over age 65 or under age five need a swine flu shot. Everyone can benefit from receiving this vaccination, however, these people groups are considered at a higher risk than the rest of the general population. Their at risk status is generally determined by their present health condition as well as the strength of their immune systems. This vaccination may be administered by doctors and health care professionals in conjunction with the seasonal flu vaccination.

The swine flu may also be known as the H1N1 virus. This name is derived from the dominant gene combinations that form this particular version of influenza. They are often found in different viruses circulated amongst the pigs of Europe and Asia, which led to its more commonly known name. Symptoms in humans tend to include coughing, fever, sore throat, diarrhea, and vomiting.


A primary factor in determining who should receive the swine flu shot is an individual's existing medical condition. Those who are experiencing any health complications that might compromise their immune systems are categorized as high risk. This category can include pregnant women, those with diabetes, and patients with heart or lung disease. Pregnancy can severely lower a woman's immune system, making her more likely to catch the flu than other portions of the population, and even more likely to experience infections and give birth prematurely as a result of the disease. Heart or lung diseases can lower the body's ability to pump fluid and oxygen through the respiratory system, which can be further damaged by swine flu, causing some patients to require respiratory therapy if left untreated.

The second factor used to prioritize who should receive a swine flu shot is age. Individuals over age 65 tend to experience more health complications than any other age category of the population. Though this group is technically less likely to catch any form of the flu, if they do become infected, their bodies are much more susceptible to experiencing additional problems. The flu, if contracted and left unattended, can lead to the development of respiratory infections and pneumonia, among other serious conditions, for individuals in this age group.

Children under age five should also receive the swine flu shot. Though it is unknown specifically why this age category is more susceptible to the disease than other adolescents, children who fall within the age range of one to five years are four to five times more likely to be hospitalized with this type of the flu than any other age group. Professionals who work with children in this category, such as day care workers and grade school teachers, may also wish to receive this vaccination as a preventative measure to avoid spreading infection to this at risk population.



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