Caregivers are urged to speak to the health care providers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to discuss specific issues or concerns regarding the flu or the flu vaccine.
- The CDC recommends that flu vaccination be offered by the end of October, 2019, if possible. However, if getting the flu vaccine before the end of October is not feasible, then it should be done as soon as possible thereafter.
- Seasonal flu activity may begin as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May. Most commonly, flu activity peaks in the United States between December and February.
- The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Having received a flu vaccine is not a guarantee that the individual will not get the flu. However, in general, if persons who have received the flu vaccine do get the flu, studies have shown that the flu vaccine can reduce the severity of their illness.
- If a person with I/DD is at high risk of developing flu complications and does get flu symptoms, the caregiver should contact the health care provider quickly for possible treatment with a flu antiviral drug. These drugs work best when given within 48 hours of when the symptoms begin. The CDC recommends that people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications and who get flu symptoms during flu season be treated with flu antiviral drugs as quickly as possible without waiting for confirmatory testing.
These groups of individuals are at high risk for complications from the flu:
Persons with neurologic conditions, which include:
- Intellectual disability
- Cerebral palsy
- Moderate to severe developmental delay
- Disorders of the brain and spinal cord
- Spinal cord injury
- Muscular dystrophy
In addition, persons with the following characteristics are at high risk for complications from the flu:
- Young Children
- Adults 65 years and older
- People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
Anyone who has a health condition that increases their risk for complications (see the list above) if they become sick with the flu should get prompt medical attention if flu symptoms occur.
Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.
Please note that individuals may have the flu with respiratory symptoms but without a fever.
This link provides a list of warning signs for children and adults who have the flu. Anyone experiencing these warning signs should obtain medical care immediately.