Every year, thousands of people make the smart decision to protect themselves from the flu with the flu vaccine. The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. Keep in mind that vaccination is especially important for certain people who are high risk or who are in close contact with high risk persons.
You cannot catch the flu from the flu shot, but it can have side effects. Side effects from the flu shot tend to be mild and can mimic cold and flu symptoms. If you’re planning to get the flu shot this year (which we recommend you do), here are some things you might need to expect.
Reaction at the injection site.
The most common side effect to the flu vaccine is a reaction at the injectinside which is usually the upper arm. After the shot is administered, some people experience soreness, redness, warmth, and in some cases slight swelling. To prevent such a reaction, consider taking some ibuprofen or acetaminophen before receiving the shot.
Headache and other aches and pains
The second most common side effect to the flu shot is headaches and muscle aches throughout the body. These usually occur on the first day and go away within two days of receiving the shot. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease the discomfort.
Dizziness or fainting
Some people tend to get dizzy or faint after receiving a shot. Sometimes it’s a side effect of the shot. Sometimes it’s psychological and phobia related. If you are afraid of needles, the vaccine may also be available as a nasal spray, but you’ll need to ask your medical care provider if it is available. During the 2016-2017 flu season, the nasal spray vaccine wasn’t recommended. If you’re one of those people that feels faint after receiving a shot, try sitting for a few minutes and having a snack both before and after the shot.
A slight fever of 101 ℉ or less is considered a mild side effect of the flu vaccine. It should go away within two days. Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease the discomfort of the fever.
Can severe problems occur?
Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include:
- breathing problems,
- hoarseness or wheezing,
- hives, paleness,
- a fast heartbeat, or
If they do occur, it is within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. These reactions can occur among persons who are allergic to something in the vaccine, such as egg protein or other ingredients. While severe reactions are uncommon, you should let your medical care provider know if you have a history of allergy or severe reaction to the flu vaccine or any part of the flu vaccine.
There is a small possibility that influenza vaccine could be associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, no more than 1 or 2 cases per million people vaccinated. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a neurologic condition that causes weakness and paralysis throughout your body. However, it’s not clear if the flu vaccine is the actual cause of GBS in these cases.This is much lower than the risk of severe complications from flu, which can be prevented by the flu vaccine.
If you have had a serious reaction to seasonal influenza vaccine, call a medical care provider right away.
Tell your medical care provider what happened, the date and time it happened, and when you got the flu shot.