Flu Vaccine Side Effects

The influenza virus (flu), is a viral respiratory infection that is spread from person to person and is estimated to infect nearly one billion people each year.  Symptoms of the flu virus include a high fever, body chills, nausea, tiredness, sore throat, congestion, muscle or joint aches, and a cough.  Treatment includes rest, drinking fluids, and using prescription or over the counter medications to address symptoms.  While the virus may be prevented with frequent hand washing, staying home when ill, and limiting contact with people that are sick, one of the best preventative measures you can take is to get an annual flu vaccine (often referred to as a flu shot).  People considering an influenza vaccine raleigh north carolina may be concerned with potential side effects.

Most Common Influenza Vaccine Side Effects

Reaction at Injection Site:  The flu shot is typically administered to the upper arm and may result in a slight reaction.  The most common reaction after receiving the shot is to have soreness, warmth, redness, and slight swelling at the injection site.  Any reaction typically subsides within two days and discomfort can be managed by taking ibuprofen prior to getting the shot.

Headaches and Aches or Pains:  Usually occurring on the first day after receiving the shot, headaches or muscle aches throughout the body may occur but generally go away within two days.  Pain relievers can help alleviate any discomfort.  Though there is some research that suggests these medications can decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine, it is unclear if these medications should be avoided.

Fever:  It is common for a low grade fever 99-100 degrees to develop after the flu shot.  This is considered a mild side effect and generally goes away in a day or two.  Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help combat any fever resulting from the vaccination.

Dizziness or Fainting:  Some people are prone to dizziness or fainting with any shot they receive.  Patients that have a history of fainting or dizziness should communicate that to their doctor prior to receiving the flu shot.

Ineffectiveness:  There are numerous strains of the influenza virus and they vary by season.  Because of this, it is possible that a patient will still contract the virus even after receiving a vaccination.  Despite this, it is still recommended that people get vaccinated each year because symptoms, and their duration, are greatly reduced in patients that receive the vaccine.

The Flu vaccine does NOT cause the flu but these above potential mild side effects may occur.

Serious Influenza Vaccine Side Effects

Severe Allergic Reactions:  In very rare cases, the influenza vaccine can cause severe allergic reactions that usually begin within a few hours after receiving the vaccine.  Symptoms can include swelling, hives, breathing difficulties, rapid heart rate, weakness, and dizziness.  Patients experiencing these symptoms should contact their doctor as soon as possible and if very sever, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.

High Fever:  While uncommon, a fever greater than 101°F (38°C) could occur.  Patients should contact their doctor if concerned.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS):  In very rare cases, people that receive the flu vaccine have experienced a neurological condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome.  The condition causes weakness and paralysis throughout the body.  It is unclear if the vaccine is the actual cause of GBS but patients that have experienced GBS in the past, may be more susceptible to recurrence.  And just because a person has previously had GBS, does not mean that the flu vaccine is unsafe for them to get.  As such, patients with prior GBS should discuss with their doctor to determine if it is safe to get vaccinated.

Heritage as a screening form for completion prior to any vaccine administration.

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