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Does The Flu Shot Cause Side-Effects?

Updated on October 1, 2012

Prepare Yourself Against This Upcoming Flu Season


The Influenza Virus

The flu cell virus shown in photo, is no ones friend. And to add, it not only looks ugly, but can also make you feel equally as ugly from the ill effects it can cause while running rampant through the body.
The flu cell virus shown in photo, is no ones friend. And to add, it not only looks ugly, but can also make you feel equally as ugly from the ill effects it can cause while running rampant through the body. | Source

One very important question that is likely being asked more so during this time of the year, than during the previous summer months is one in reference to receiving a yearly flu shot. And in turn a common question which usually follows would be along the lines of...does the flu shot cause any side-effects? To be honest with you, I would be flat out lying to my readers if I said no! But then again this depends solely on the individual, or group of individuals who receive the yearly influenza, or flu vaccine.

Everyone of us may have learned during a previous high school, or college class, that each and everyone of us are uniquely different because of our specific genetic make-up. In turn our DNA is unique to that one individual. Look at it as a fingerprint, that identifies only that one individual. So because everyone is genetically and chemically speaking- different. This has a great deal of influence on what disease, or illnesses we may, or may not be susceptible to, or in turn be able to fight off..

Our body is an amazing piece of complex machinery, if you will, with countless miles of blood vessels and site specific cells that keep our immune systems strong and healthy. Preparing it for battle so to speak, if it is invaded by an unsuspecting pathogen, or virus in the way of the flu virus for example.

So at times it is a good idea to give our body's and in turn immune systems, a little help during certain times of the year, particularly now during the later months of September and early October. I also want to remind my readers, that flu shots are not for everyone and not everyone is able to receive the flu vaccination, and for many a good reason.

The flu vaccine for one, is comprised of a combination of different circulating viral strains, that will most likely be circulating in our general vicinity during the upcoming season. Or they may have already been circulating over the past year, or two. H1N1-(Avian, or Bird flu), is one such viral strain that we all have to take precautionary measures against.

But how do you take precautionary measures against an invisible virus that is not visible to the naked eye and can only be observed under the power of an electron microscope. Great question isn't it? But also one that is really pure common sense. Did someone say-Get your flu shot! Well if you're thinking the same thing that I am, then we are on the same page as each other.

Receiving a yearly flu vaccine, is by far the wisest choice you can make, in protecting yourself, as well as your immediate family from the influenza virus. The influenza virus alone claims the lives of many each year, including a modest group of innocent young children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Those who may be afflicted with cancer, or the aids virus for example.

Individuals who fit into one of these three classes, are more at risk in developing the influenza virus, than an individual who is fairly healthy, accept maybe for getting a cold or two each year. And not to mention that the morbidity and mortality rates during any given flu season for each of these three specific groups that I just mentioned, increases dramatically.

But getting back to the main point and question that we previously touched upon in the article, about whether it is safe to receive a flu vaccine? Again that all depends on you the individual. Flu shots for the most part are very safe and millions, upon millions of individuals....young children alike, those over 65 years of age and those in the high risk group, I previously mentioned all receive a yearly flu shot without any serious adverse side-effects.

I have spoken individually with a few friends over the past month,whose ages range from the 43 to about 65 years of age. And when I asked them about side-effects from this years flu shot, they sort of cringed when I mentioned the word shot. A sixty-five year old gentleman that I know said he and his wife both received the flu shot and that particular man said that he did not feel so well after he received it. In fact he said he thought he was coming down sick with the flu after he received the shot. However his wife who is about the same age - felt fine after she received the vaccine.

A forty-three year old friend of mine on the other hand said that he received the flu shot and felt great. So once again it all depends on the individual. Getting back to the point I stated in an earlier paragraph, where each and every individual is different in genetic make-up. And in turn each individual may experience a totally different set of symptoms than the next person. So it is true that in some people, the flu vaccine can make some people feel ill afterwards. But for the most part, the side-effects that are usually experienced from receiving a flu shot subside in two to three days time.

If you are an individual for example who is allergic to eggs, than you should by no means receive a flu shot. The reason being is that the influenza, or flu vaccine is made up, or prepared in an suspension that is comprised of chicken eggs. So if you become ill on occasion when you try eating eggs at the breakfast table, or anywhere else for that matter, you should avoid the flu shot,or you could risk developing an allergic reaction to this years flu shot.

Otherwise as I mentioned, the flu vaccine is very safe and the chances of developing side-effects is very small. The flu vaccine is actually a combination of three, or four different strains of flu virus that had been circulating across the globe over the past few years. The strains consist of inactivated flu virus; that when injected into your body, becomes dormant, or idle if you will. Once it is recognized by an invading pathogen or virus, it comes out of its dormant state, to attack the flu virus, that has previously invaded your bodies immune system, as a foreign invader.

So now that you have a better idea that there is always the slight possibility that a flu shot could give you an adverse reaction, or an unwarranted side-effect. I will highlight some of the more common and prominent symptoms, or side-effects that can be experienced after receiving your yearly flu vaccination and what to expect.

You May Experience A Few Of The More Common Reactions Below

  • Localized redness, or site irritation at the site of injection.
  • Soreness within the muscle of the arm where the shot is administered. This may last up to three days or more, depending on the individual.
  • Sore, Red, or Itchy Eyes
  • A cough - either unproductive, or productive
  • body aches, or myalgia
  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Chronic, or acute fatigue which usually subsides in a weeks time, or less.

One other important detail to mention in regard to the flu shot that you should know about, especially if you have a youngster in the family who is receiving a flu shot this year, and that is in reference to an inactivated flu vaccine called Afluria. If your child is eight years of age or less, this type and brand of flu vaccine should not be administered to a child of that age group.

Your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist, if you receive your vaccines at a local pharmacy should know this. But just in case, please ask questions to make sure it is not afluria, which again is an inactivated type of vaccine. Also remember that with any type of live, or inactivated vaccine, there is always the slightest possibility that you could develop mild side-effects from it, as is the case with a number of other common vaccines that are given to children and adults alike. The flu shot is there to protect you and your family - not to hurt you in any way.

And if you feel that you are one individual who would fare better without receiving a flu shot this year, because either you do not enjoy getting shots, or you have experienced side-effects that were a bit uncomfortable during prior season. Again the choice is up to you. Also remember that if you do not get vaccinated this year and come down ill with the flu virus; know hat there are powerful antiviral medications that are very efficacious and safe when orally administered.

These antiviral medications, such as Symmetrel, Relenza and Tamiflu are all designed to make you feel better within a three day time frame; given they are administered within two days once signs and symptoms of the influenza virus are suspected and appear in you or a family member. So continue to educate yourself about the flu virus and what to look for in terms of various signs and symptoms. Hopefully this article will also continue to serve in educating you further about the flu, as well as the risks and benefits of receiving a flu shot. Be well!


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    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello CVV:

      Hope you do not mind me abbreviating your Hubpages pen name. And thank you for chiming in and providing your feedback in reference to my flu article. I am glad that the information contained within was of use to you, as well as other readers during this time of the year. Always glad that I can satisfy my readers on their quest for knowledge on a variety of topics such as this one. Thanks again for reading.


    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 5 years ago from Long Island, New York


      And thanks for chiming in and providing your input on my article about the flu shot. I have to tend to agree with you that frequent hand washing, is probably the single most preventative practice that can help you from contracting the flu virus, besides getting vaccinated. Glad I could share my input here in this article with my readers, including yourself cat, about the common fears of vaccinations. Take care.


    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi JLBowden,

      My husband and I have taken flu shots annually for 15 yrs. since our kid became school age. Now she gets them too. The one year that there was a shortage of vaccine I got a horrible case from our young daughter and stayed confined to a closed bedroom to protect my husband from getting it since he was on a long job project . Warnings are always present on the consent form: allergy to eggs, history of Epstein-Barr, Immuno-suppressive disorders, etc. I think they are extremely helpful in either staving off flu or reducing its severity, and I would recommend flu shots heartily. These combined w/ good hand-washing practices and avoiding touching ones face w/ contaminated fingers are key to staying well in winter. Thank you for writing about this and addressing the common fears of vaccinations. :)

    • Jlbowden profile image

      James Bowden 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Hello Jean:

      I am glad some of the advice included within the article has helped you in making a decision on whether to get the flu shot or not. I usually get one each year, because I am in a lot of doctors offices with my job, including pediatricians talking about various medical products. So if you work in a healthcare setting...are a nurse, medical asst. or similar occupation, then by all means you should have a flu shot. And for those who have young children, because the flu spreads rapidly among family members, once one individual in the family gets it., the rest are at a higher risk of developing it. But for all others it a matter of choice really. Thanks again for your feedback and glad you enjoyed the read.


    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks for an informative piece on whether to avoid flu shots because of symptoms. I find that when I used to get shots, I always got quite sick and ran a fever. I have a chronic back issue, and it's odd, but it acts as a human barometer, and when I have a fever, I have spasms in my back for days. So luckily I have not gotten the flu, and am not going to chance it this year.