Having the flu vaccine annually can minimise your chance of contracting the flu, and of passing it on to other people. It can also reduce your symptoms in the event that you do get it. Some people do experience mild flu vaccine side effects though, and it is important to be aware of these so you can manage them effectively.
The Flu Vaccine Can Result In Flu-Like Symptoms
While the live components of the flu virus have been killed and you will not get the flu from the vaccine, you may experience flu-like side effects. This is your body’s immune response to the vaccine.
Some of the most common side effects include
- A low-level temperature
- A small lump where you had the injection
- Swelling, tenderness or pain where you had the injection
- Muscular aches or headaches
- Fatigue or drowsiness
For most patients, these side effects only last for a short period and deliver minor discomfort.
How Long Will The Side Effects Last?
If you are going to experience a reaction to the flu vaccine it typically occurs within about six to 12 hours of having the injection.
Severe reactions are very rare and tend to occur within 15 minutes of receiving the vaccine. In order to safeguard against this, your practitioner will ask you to stay behind for 15 minutes before you can go home.
What Is Considered To Be A Severe Allergic Reaction To The Vaccine?
Any drastic change in symptoms should be carefully managed. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine include
- Swelling around the lips or eyes
- Problems with breathing, or wheezing in the chest
- Weakness or dizziness
- Loss of colour/paleness
- An accelerated heartbeat.
How Do I Treat Side Effects From The Vaccine?
In the majority of cases, the side effects do not require separate treatment and often some hot soup and extra rest provides enough relief for the recovery period.
In the cases of babies or toddlers developing fevers higher than 38.5 degrees Centigrade, paracetamol is usually recommended. Ensure that the baby stays well hydrated and monitor the temperature regularly. If the temperature exceeds 38.5 degrees or does not respond to paracetamol, please contact your doctor immediately.
Redness or swelling at the site of the injection can be treated by gently applying a cold, damp compress.
Headaches, low-grade fever, and muscular aches may be treated with paracetamol.
If you are in any doubt about your side effects or if they worsen significantly in a short period of time, you must seek medical treatment.
How Long Will The Side Effects Last?
Side effects from the influenza vaccine typically only last a few days. In the event that your symptoms persist after seven days, or they become worse, you should contact your medical practitioner immediately.
I Have Had An Allergic Reaction Before. Should I Have The Vaccine Again?
No, if you have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past it is not recommended that you have the vaccine again. Make sure you discuss your potential risks with your medical practitioner.
What Are Some Of The Flu Vaccine Benefits?
The statistics from 2017 reveal that 250,000 local cases of flu were reported, and 29,000 of those were hospitalised. About 4,000 of those people died from the virus, the majority of whom were older than 65.
For many people the flu is so much more debilitating than a day or two in bed, making you unproductive and miserable. The influenza vaccine becomes most effective two weeks after it is administered and its effects can last for a few months.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
It is recommended that everyone has flu immunisation annually because the virus is constantly mutating. The bigger the group of people who have the vaccine, the stronger the herd immunity that protects against outbreaks of influenza.
The National Immunisation Program recommends that vulnerable groups such as
- People over the age of 65
- Indigenous Australians
- Pregnant women
- People with compromised immunity, asthma, cancer, metabolic, kidney and heart disorders and people with chronic respiratory diseases
- People in the medical industry who come into contact with high-risk people
- Patients in hospitals and public facilities who are at risk of developing complications from influenza.
In most cases, influenza vaccine side effects are minor, mild and typically self resolve. While there are a few groups that should avoid having the vaccine, for the vast majority it provides protection through herd immunity and prevents the uncontrolled spread of the virus. The side effects are not comparable to the effects of the full-blown virus, particularly when it strikes people from one of the vulnerable social groups.
Would you like to find out more about the side effects of the flu vaccine and what your risk factors are? Contact us today for an appointment and chat to a professional about flu vaccine benefits: (02) 9159 6903