Are There Side Effects of Vaccines?

The seasonal flu shot is a yearly administered vaccine as a protection against the influenza virus. In the United States, everyone from age 6 months is recommended to have flu shots. Flu can be a very serious illness for all, but more for young children, adults from ages 65 & over, those with poor health conditions, and pregnant women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and family from the flu.

Adverse side effects seldom happen but if they do, they can range from mild to severe and often depend on the type of vaccine you receive. Before you get your shot, get educated on the possible side effects.

A flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness but like those meds, there are different side effects that may be experienced after getting a flu shot or a nasal spray flu vaccine. Although you will consider these adverse effects milder and short-lasting comparable to full symptoms of bad case of flu.

  1. You will feel pain felt at the injection site; that is the most common side effects of the shot. After the flu shot, there will be redness, soreness, warmth, and in some cases, a slight swelling around the eyes or lips can happen. Soreness and pain usually lasts less than two days. Your health provider can give you a mild pain reliever to ease the soreness.
  2. You will have aches and pains in the muscles all over the body sometimes following the shot. Same as the pain at the injection site, this takes place on the first day and goes away within one to two days. To alleviate the pain, you can take pain relievers.
  3. Headaches and sometimes dizziness or fainting spells. These can side effects of both the shot and the nasal spray. Still a mild side effect, it should not last longer than a day or two. If your condition is not relieved, inform your healthcare provider.
  4. A 101 degree fever or less is the usual side effect of both the nasal and flu shot. Mild side effect as a slight fever will subside within a day or two; however, a high fever over 101 degrees is rare and you should call your doctor or seek medical attention if you are concerned. The good news is that only around 1 to 2% of people with flu shot will have fever as a side effect.
  5. The nasal spray often causes more side effects than the shot does. This is because of where the nasal spray is administered through the nose. Those who were administered nasal spray likely had sore throat and runny nose afterwards.
  6. Allergic reactions caused by the flu shot are very rare. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: breathing difficulty; dizziness; hives; pale skin; heart palpitation and wheezing. People who are allergic to eggs often have an allergic reaction to the flu shot as the viruses used to make the vaccines are grown in chicken eggs.
  7. Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is the most extreme side effect. Due to the neurologic condition, there is weakness and paralysis throughout the body. Bring the person immediately to the hospital as the condition is serious. But patients usually recover within a short amount of time.

It is always wise to consult a doctor no matter how mild the side effects are. Your health provider is the best person to know how to relieve these symptoms. However, those people who think that they have been injured by the flu shot can file a claim for compensation from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).

Your Publix or Target pharmacist is available to discuss flu shot options with you and ready to give you a personalized recommendation at any Publix Pharmacies closest to your location. This is a good opportunity for you and your family to face the approaching flu season.