Nobody enjoys having the flu, but sometimes the preventative can seem more daunting than the disease. Not everyone suffers from side effects from a flu shot, but they are a significant contributor in many people’s decision to go unvaccinated. Should you worry about side effects effecting you?

What kind of side effects occur with the flu shot?

As with any injection, the flu shot may result in tenderness, redness, swelling, or pain at the injection site. Headaches or body aches are also not uncommon. Some people may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting after receiving the shot. Others may experience fevers (up to about 101°). All of these side effects are generally mild and should subside within a day or two.

Rarely, someone may develop an allergic reaction to ingredients used in the vaccine, like eggs. Always mention all allergies to your healthcare provider, and never take any medication which contains ingredients you react to. There are egg-free alternatives for people with egg allergies.

How often do these side effects occur?

According to a study conducted in 1990, the overall frequency of flu shot side effects is low. Of the people who experienced symptoms, these were more likely to occur within the first week after receiving the shot. It should also be noted that these symptoms were not severe enough to interrupt the subjects’ ability to perform their regular daily activities.

Should you be concerned about flu shot side effects?

Most flu shot side effects can be handled by taking some ibuprofen and resting. Faintness or dizziness may be prevented by having a small snack and staying seated right after receiving the shot. Influenza itself causes severe upper respiratory symptoms and may progress to pneumonia and even death, so it’s generally worth it for you to get a flu shot. The elderly, infants, and immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for a dangerous infection, so getting your flu shot helps protect them by contributing to herd immunity.

If you have never had a severe reaction to a vaccine before, you are very unlikely to have one to the flu shot. The flu shot helps protect not only you, but people who are unable to be vaccinated for health reasons. If you have concerns about the vaccine and its potential side effects, a family doctor like Hampstead Medical Center PC can help put you at ease and give you the information you need to make the best vaccination decision for you.

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