According to the CDC, flu vaccinations are safe and one of the best ways to prevent the flu from spreading to others. And people who get vaccinated and still get sick tend to have less severe symptoms.
No matter how you look at it, flu vaccines can save lives. There are enough of– One thing is that it can give you the flu. While this is not the case, some side effects of the flu shot can occur. The side effects are usually mild and nothing to worry about, but it’s important to know them so that you don’t worry if you receive your vaccine.
In the following, Dr. Carmen Teague, Medical Specialist at Atrium Health’s Mecklenburg Medical Group, what you need to know about normal flu shots, which are normal, and what side effects can be a sign of something more serious.
Common side effects of the flu shot
The flu vaccine will not give you the flu, but mild symptoms may occur due to the way the vaccine works.
“The flu vaccine is designed to stimulate your immune system to build antibodies against the virus. This stimulation can cause a low level fever, loss of appetite, loose stool, easy fatigue or myalgia (muscle pain), and even a slight cough. Teague says.
According to Dr. Teague, these symptoms usually resolve after a few days and are not cause for alarm. There may also be redness, swelling, or pain when the shot is injected, which is also normal.
The CDC says After vaccination you may experience “flu-like” symptoms such as:
- Pain, redness and / or swelling at the injection site
- a headache
The symptoms listed above should go away in a few days. Also, keep in mind that not everyone has symptoms, but these are the most common. When it comes to other symptoms, or symptoms that last longer, it is important to keep in mind that you can still catch a cold immediately after getting the flu shot.
So if you have other symptoms that seem like the flu, it could be a different illness and that doesn’t mean the shot made you sick. It also takes about two weeks for the flu shot to be effective at protecting you from the flu, so you can technically catch the flu within that two-week window.
Signs of a more serious (but rare) reaction
“A very small percentage of people can have a real allergic reaction to the vaccine, including chest tightness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, swelling of the face or throat, and redness of the eyes,” says Dr. Teague. If you experience these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately. Dr. Teague says that severe allergic reactions usually occur within a few hours of getting the flu shot.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction after CDC can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Hoarseness or wheezing
- Swelling around the eyes or lips
- A fast heartbeat or dizziness
Another possible reaction is an infection where the shot was administered. “Patients can also develop an infection at the injection site, which manifests itself in worsening redness, swelling, warmth and tenderness,” says Dr. Teague. You should also see a doctor right away if you experience this type of reaction.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions about a disease or health goals.