The flu season is soon to be upon us and I hate to be so prescriptive but when it comes to influenza I feel like I have to be. I immunize my entire family and I think you should, too.
Hard to believe, but with our children going back to school and swapping snot around the classroom, it’s time to get fall flu immunizations on your radar. Last year during the 2016-17 season, more than 100 U.S. children died of the flu (influenza), and thousands more were hospitalized for severe illness or complications from the virus. Historically, more than 80% of children who died of influenza were not vaccinated. The flu shot is the best way to teach your own immune system to fight back if exposed to the virus. The flu vaccine “recipe” was changed this year (one different A strain compared with last year’s vaccine) to accommodate for predicted viral strains that will likely come and circulate around our neighborhoods.
The recommendations this year are the same as last year. Every child over 6 months of age should be immunized.
10 Things To Know About Flu Shots:
Here’s what you need to know based on my experience as a pediatrician, The Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics policies:
- All Children Over 6 Months: The flu vaccine should be given to everyone 6 months and older. Babies and young children (6 months to 8 years) who have never had a flu shot will need 2 doses of the vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart. Young children under age 5 years of age at higher risk of hospitalization and serious illness as are children with underlying medical conditions.
- Pregnant Moms High Risk: Flu vaccine should be given to all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy or are in the postpartum period or are breastfeeding during the flu season. The vaccine is safe to get at any time during pregnancy. Mom’s immune response (making antibodies to the virus) are passed onto the baby in the final stages of pregnancy and protect newborns too young to get the shot. A double win!
- Only The Shot: This year, like last year, the nasal flu spray is not recommended because data showed that it was less effective in protecting children and their families from the most common strains of flu circulating. It’s a sincere bummer, in my mind, that we don’t get to offer the spray but it sure is good news to only use an effective vaccine backed by decades of safety research. Another reason to avoid promising “no-poke” visits.
- Timing: Get your vaccine as soon as it becomes available, and ideally by the end of October before Halloween. No reason to try to “game the system” and wait as there isn’t a lot of convincing data that the vaccine fades before the flu season does. Influenza peaks in early winter typically but of anything that’s predictable, it’s that influenza is unpredictable. Being immunized 2 weeks prior to an exposure is the best way to be protected. Most doctors and nurses and hospital workers will all have their vaccine in September and October.
- Children With Egg Allergies: are OK to get the shot and do not need to go to an allergist to get the vaccine.
- Flu Shot Can’t Cause Influenza: The flu shot doesn’t cause flu infection. The shot is not a live virus vaccine, it’s an inactivated vaccine, and it can’t replicate in the body.
- Lots Of Vaccines Available: Flu shots will likely be at your pediatrician’s office soon. There will be about 150 to 166 million doses of the vaccine produced.
- Side Effects: most commonly are pain in the arm or leg at the injection site. About 10-30% of children under age 2 years will get a fever whereas fever is rare after flu shots in older children and adults.
- Thimerosal: is a preservative used in multi-dose vaccines like influenza. There are thimerosal-free formulations, as well, if you’re concerned about the preservative. Thimerosal has never been shown to cause health problems.
- You Don’t Want Influenza, Get The Shot: Families, in my experience, who have experienced influenza in their home always get the flu shot thereafter! In my 11 years of practice, I’ve taken care of critically-ill patients with influenza, patients with severe pneumonia, severe ear infections, dehydration, seizures, and respiratory distress requiring oxygen all from flu. The vaccine effectiveness for flu vaccine varies from year to year based on what specific strains are in the vaccine (3 or 4 strains, depending on the manufacturer) and what strains of influenza virus actually circulate between people. On average, most years the vaccines anywhere from about 50 to 60% effective. That means if 100 people got the shot about 50 or 60 people, on average each year, would be protected from getting the infection when exposed to influenza. Some people feel it’s not good enough — but remember if you don’t get the vaccine you have absolutely zero added protection when exposed. Some studies find that anywhere between 10-40% of children are exposed to influenza every year so every layer of protection helps.
When you immunize your kid, you first and foremost protect them, you secondarily protect your family, and third, you protect those kids who can’t get the shot, those older people who won’t mount a great response to the vaccine and can get really sick when they’re exposed, and those babies who are too young to be immunized. ~From an NPR Interview on 2017 Flu Vaccine
As A Pro-Vaccine Parent You Can Change Your Community’s Protection:
One of the ways you can change your family’s level of protection is to make sure other families in your community also get their flu shot so their family doesn’t share flu to you and those you love. In general, one of the reasons we have a lot of circulating flu is that only about 50-75% of people get the flu vaccine (depends on your age range, toddlers typically are well immunized!). What if parents were the ones to endorse protection from influenza? What if we drove our schools and playgroups and community protection by helping make sure families remembered it was an important step?
Perhaps share with others that you’re immunizing your family? Share a video on your Facebook or Instagram or other social community? I’m hoping this 20-second video can help nudge those who haven’t yet planned to get their family protected. Spread it, not the virus.
My boys both got flu shots last year but one of them contracted the flu. His case was fairly mild though, and without a swab to confirm diagnosis I would have assumed minor virus. Can you confirm that the flu shot also helps minimize flu symptoms if a vaccinated child gets the flu?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Yes, it is a known benefit of influenza vaccine that it lessens severity of the illness if you do get it (along with lessening risk of hospitalization, etc).
“Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.”
Thank you very much for being clear and succinct in the 10 things to know about flu vaccinations. I agree with your premise about once you’ve had influenza, you will get the vaccine—it’s a nasty illness. Parent’s eyes pop wide open when I tell them their child will be sick with a high fever for at least 4 to 5 days, no school until no fever for 24 hours, and fyi…you may catch this within 48 hours. It’s not ‘just a cold’.
You are so rite. I had the flu two years ago and I felt like I was going to die. It is no joke. My color even changed I was so sick. Like the walking dead. I dont remember the flu being that bad as a youngster. I would advise getting the shot.
Propa Ganda says
Hmm, interesting that you’re suggesting pregnant women get this shot, considering the flu vaccine has never been studied or tested for safety, or effectiveness in pregnant women. Ever. The flu shot has also never been proven to be effective for children under two. And considering that the flu shot is an experimental, different vaccine, with different dominant predicted strains chosen every single year, there are never adequate safety and efficacy studies conducted. Meaning every single person who is dumb enough to get this shot, serves as a guinea pig or oblivious vaccine study participant. But these aren’t even my biggest issues with the flu shot.
First off, it has been proven from multiple studies that individuals who get subsequent annual flu shots, are 5 times more likely to develop more severe non-influenza respiratory infections, like pneumonia, or bronchitis, than people who abstain from getting vaccinated. The flu shot is loaded with aluminum, thimerisol, and other known toxins and suspected carcinogens, that is actually weakens your immune system, and makes you more vulnerable to a plethora of infections. This is why many people claim that the flu shot gave them the flu. Which isn’t true, the flu shot just weakened your immune system so significantly that you caught the flu, or something similar, soon after getting vaccinated.
And the claims of it being 50-60% effective are asinine. Most years it’s reported to be closer to 5-20% effective, which basically. Means for every 100 people vaccinated, maybe one person, reduces their risk of getting the flu. Doesn’t seem worth it to me. But to each their own.
Bear in mind, the flu shot didn’t used to be imposed and recommended to every man, woman and child until recent years. The elderly were the only ones suggested to receive it up until about ten years ago, when vaccine manufacturers realized that the flu shot could be their most lucrative, cash cow vaccine, because they have to make a new one each year, and could market it to all Americans. Their goal is to sell 330 million flu shots here in the U.S.and are succeeding in lobbying and bribing congress into mandating it for healthcare and hospital workers. Despite ten fact that zero studies have shown any benefits or reduction of flu cases within hospitals requiring staff to get them. It’s all profit motivated, fear mongering and manipulation to make the rich even richer. At the expense of consumers.
The ingredients in the flu shot and every other vaccine have never been studied extensively or individually. The CDC recommended schedule has also never been collectively studied, nor have taking multiple vaccines simultaneously. There are zero true placebo, double blind, vaccinated vs unvaxxed studies on vAccines checking their safety or if they even work. Yet people cling to the theory of vaccines, believing everything they’re told, but failing to do the research, fact check,or read the flawed, biased, and unreliable studies they cite as proof of their legitimacy.
Anyone considering this shot for themselves, and especially their children, should stop, and take the necessary time to read scientific studies on safety, efficacy, effectiveness. And really immerse themselves in skeptical , critical thinking, and uncover what a deceptive, propagated, and manipulative campaign vaccines really are. Before you damage yourself, or hour children, beyond repair.
Science supporter says
Propa Ganda I’d love to see any one of the “studies” you claim and would also love to see your critical analysis of their data. If you can’t produce them, you might want to rethink your spreading of outright lies about vaccines.
Vaccines are safe (and one of the most well studied things in medical science!), vaccines are effective (the sharp decline in the diseases the prevent can be found in multiple studies), and vaccines save lives (flu kills people every year- let alone the other vaccine preventable illnesses!).
Thanks Seattle Mama Doc for spreading this great info on flu and the vaccine!
Is it to late now to get the flu shot
Stacey Ulacia says
Bottom line: it is not too late to get the flu shot! Often doctors continue to recommend flu vaccine well into May. Infants getting a flu vaccine for the first time will need two doses (separated by at least 4 weeks) so making sure babies get in for their 2nd dose is important. Most data suggests that the flu vaccine provides the best protection 2 weeks and thereafter once the shot is given, so no reason to wait. The AAP recommends that all healthy children ages 6 months and older receive the flu shot.
Jeff W says
@Propaganda: Since when is 5-20% of 100 people equal to “maybe one person”? Your shoddy math undermines any point you were trying to make.
Propa Ganda, answer one question for me. How has polio been eradicated, in this country, if vaccines don’t work? Anyone with a tiny bit of common sense can see how vaccines have brought this about. Maybe you should research how our immune systems make antibodies and fight infections before you shower us with your “knowledge”.
Juanita Bustos says
Cada vez qué me pongo la flu shot me siento muy mal . Taquicardia fiebre mareos dolor de cabeza siento que moriré nunca mas volveré a ponermela..ustedes tienen razón.
Theresa Dippolito MSN, CCM, PAHM, FNP-C, CRNP says
Propa Ganda – either your data is very inaccurate or you misinterpreted the data you were reviewing. The flu shot actually has statistical data to show persons who receive it develop LESS, not more, respiratory infections in the subsequent year.
Pregnant women are at risk due to their naturally reduced immune response caused by pregnancy.
their unborn babies are at increased risk of medical complications from a mother with fevers and infection. Flu can cause pneumonia and severe illness. In immunocompromised persons it can lead to death. The risk of a flu shot is far outweighed by the potential harms of the flu.
I become very Ill every year after the flu vaccine, usually 2-3 weeks after receiving it. Fevers up to 103, fatigue, headache, chills, sweats, aches lasting 4 to 7 days. My doctor says “atleast its not influenza”. I hate getting this shot, i think it is a scam but i will lose my job if i do not take it. Chemicals in this vaccine have also been proven to highly increase the chances of developing dementia. How is it we can be forced to take this.
Robin Fager says
I had the same thought about pregnant women. read the information in the flu vaccine package….it is clear. The flu shot has never been shown to be safe in pregnancy AND it says in the insert that pregnant women should not have the shot unless clearly indicated. The problem is that obstetricians are not sharing that part of the information with their patients.
I am an RN in the emergency room. I have never had a flu shot and contracted the flu last in 1982. I deal with flu positive patients every year and many of them have had a flu vaccine. A one year old girl recently died from sudden onset encephalitis. She tested positive for flu A – she had recently had a flu shot. How many devastating deaths are worth 5-20% less flu. Read the Cochran Institute review of the research on flu vaccines. It is an eye opener.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks for sharing your opinion. Your anecdotes don’t reflect the data (the far majority of children who die from flu or are hospitalized are UN-vaccinated).
Totally agree and glad you made so many good points.
cindy mong says
thank you for the helpful information!! will get my kids vaccinated!!
Propa Ganda (as your name implies)….name your sources…..
Science Supporter says
Thanks for the great info! Making sure to have my family all vaccinated to protect themselves and those in our community who can’t get vaccinated. Keep up the good work!
Can you please show me the study that shows Thimersol (Mercury) is safe to inject into an infant or pregnant mother?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Here’s a curated link from CDC:
Thimersol Free says
Each year I request Thimersol Free – Only the multivial doses have this ingredient, but the individually wrapped ones don’t. I can’t go without a flu shot unfortunately I’m an asthmatic.
No flu shots for me says
Influenza vaccines are efficacious in preventing cases of influenza in children older than two years of age, but little evidence is available for children younger than two years of age. There was a difference between vaccine efficacy and effectiveness, partly due to differing datasets, settings and viral circulation patterns. No safety comparisons could be carried out, emphasising the need for standardisation of methods and presentation of vaccine safety data in future studies. In specific cases, influenza vaccines were associated with serious harms such as narcolepsy and febrile convulsions. It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months of age in the USA, Canada, parts of Europe and Australia. If immunisation in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required. The degree of scrutiny needed to identify all global cases of potential harms is beyond the resources of this review.
This review includes trials funded by industry. An earlier systematic review of 274 influenza vaccine studies published up to 2007 found industry-funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies independently from methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favourable to the vaccines. The review showed that reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies. The content and conclusions of this review should be interpreted in the light of this finding.
No flu shots for me says
Over 200 viruses cause influenza and ILI, producing the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches, pains, cough and runny noses). Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot distinguish between them as both last for days and rarely lead to death or serious illness. At best, vaccines may only be effective against influenza A and B, which represent about 10% of all circulating viruses. Annually, the World Health Organization estimates which viral strains should be included in the next season’s vaccinations.
The preventive effect of parenteral inactivated influenza vaccine on healthy adults is small: at least 40 people would need vaccination to avoid one ILI case (95% confidence interval (CI) 26 to 128) and 71 people would need vaccination to prevent one case of influenza (95% CI 64 to 80). Vaccination shows no appreciable effect on working days lost or hospitalisation.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
I’m unsure about your statistics as I don’t have your source.
Influenza vaccine only creates protection against influenza infections.
“ILI” as I presume you mean influenza-like illness, are caused by other viral infections that would have no change after flu vaccine. Many rhinoviruses circulate all winter (hundreds of strains) causing upper respiratory infection and influenza-like illness when accompanied by fever and body aches. Again, influenza vaccine only protects against infections caused by the one virus, influenza.
Jodi lee says
I agree with this, and everyone has an opinion on the safety of the vaccine. For me, I was getting sick yearly before I started getting the vaccine, and ending up in the hospital. Mainly because I listened to a lot of people like the ones talking on this site. So, the benefits will out weight any risk for me! Good luck all!
Julie Brown says
Thank you for the reminder! Back when influenza vaccination was not routinely recommended for children over 2, we had three flu-related child deaths in one year. I performed CPR on one of these children and was there when we told her parents we couldn’t save her. This was horrifying, and something I never wish to repeat. My family gets flu shots every year.
I have had body aches, headaches, loss of appetite, low grade fever and upset stomach for 3 days now. Could this be the flu already?
Kathy, yes! Sounds like it. We’ve had several confirmed cases in Oregon already!
Chris franklin says
Could anyone help by directing me towards some links that do show the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women?
Stacey Ulacia says
Here is a great resource on the flu vaccine for pregnant women published by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/features/pregnancyandflu/.
Becky m says
I was told to have the flu shot while pregnant to help protect the baby after birth. It was a particular shot though and I have forgotten why. It was administered by my OBGYN.
Question about the egg allergy? Has the formula changed and is the shot now egg free?
Stacey Ulacia says
“CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have updated their guidelines on egg allergy and receipt of influenza (flu) vaccines. Based on the new recommendations, people with egg allergies no longer need to be observed for an allergic reaction for 30 minutes after receiving a flu vaccine.”
More info here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/egg-allergies.htm
Beth Hicks says
Last flu season (Spring 2017), my entire family came down with the flu. We had all received our vaccinations (myself, my husband, and my 2 years old) but our 5 month old was too young. Guess who became dangerously ill while the rest of us suffered a mild case? The baby. He was nearly hospitalized, but the urgent care facility treated him after our pediatrician tried to excuse his dangerous symptoms away and ream me out for seeking a second opinion at the Urgent care. We fired her, and I will always make sure my family is protected and that we see a pediatrician who takes the flu vaccine and symptoms seriously. I have seen first-hand how the benefits outweigh the risks.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks for sharing your experience, Beth. So sorry you all had influenza. Miserable!
Nervous Nellie says
Hello! Thank you for your posts about the vaccine. I am one who gets sick…extremely so, minutes after the flu vaccine is injected. Never happened up until the past 5 years ago. Last year I declined because of this. I get hot and red faced, dizzy, weak feeling like I need to sit down, and short of breathe. I get so upset and wonder WHY this is happening to me. Most others around me dont seem to have this happen. My husband was completely fine after his shot, as were students I went to school with. My question is this: could it be the preservatives? And importantly WHAT IF I get the shot w OUT the thermisol additive? Will the vaccine be less affective?? Please inform me because I’d really like to get the vaccine soon, but I am scared as I do not want to get suddenly sick again. Once was from the vaccine from the college nurse’s office. Once at a Costco pharmacy. The CVS or Rite Aid did not make me sick. Maybe it was better that year. Please help. Thank you all for your understanding. And Doc Mama.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thimerosal is included in multi-dose vials of influenza vaccine as a preservative. In single-dose vials that are thimerosal-free, the vaccine ingredients are the same. So if you get a thimerosal-free dose there is just as much protection afforded to you.
If a person gets single-strain flu shots (to avoid thimerosol or whatever reason), is it necessary to get several different single-strain shots in order to be fully protected?
In other words, if there are 4 stains of flu vaccine available, is it necessary to get 4 separate shots to provide “complete” or even adequate coverage for that season?
Cat C says
Thank you for the informative article! I am pro-vaccine and was very involved in an effort last spring to push back against anti-vaccine forces in my community, unfortunately. My question is about reaction. My 10-year-old daughter gets a flu shot every year, and has since age 2. But each year she does indeed have a small reaction — she has cold symptoms, fever and sometimes even a slight rash. This happens every year without fail within about 48 hours after the shot. We plan the shot prior to the weekend anticipating illness. Every year I cross my fingers that this will be the year that she won’t get sick. Here’s hoping again in 2017! What is going on here? She is an otherwise healthy and active child but does get her fair share of colds and viruses. I would appreciate your insight, especially as you say (and others do too) that fever is rare after flu shots in older children and adults. Thank you!
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
So hard to speculate without seeing your daughter! It’s common to have mild aches and pains (and in young children, fever) after vaccination with influenza as it is with other vaccines as the immune system responds and creates protection inside the body.
When we gave the nasal flu vaccine we also would often see runny nose.
Here’s the list of common (and rare) side effects from Influenza vaccine from CDC:
Do flu vaccines cause any side effects?
Like any medical product, vaccines can cause side effects. Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.
Common side effects from the flu shot include:
Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
The flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting.
Some studies have found a possible small association of injectable flu vaccine with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). Overall, these studies estimated the risk for GBS after vaccination as fewer than 1 or 2 cases of GBS per one million people vaccinated. Other studies have not found any association. GBS also, rarely, occurs after flu illness. Even though GBS following flu illness is rare, GBS is more common following flu illness than following flu vaccination. GBS has not been associated with the nasal spray vaccine.
Vaccine Reactions says
I have always had mild flu-like symptoms after getting the flu vaccine and my doctors have ALWAYS acted like I was making it up. (same thing happened with a tetanus vaccine shot). Clearly, some of us have immune system reactions greater than others and I believe this is why there are so many people that say the flu shot GAVE them the flu, when really, they are just more sensitive to increased immune activity that produces fever, body aches, etc. I don’t understand why the medical community insists this is rare when in fact it’s probably somewhat common for people who are more in-tune to increased immune responses within their body. Our immune system doesn’t know the difference between the flu shot and the real flu so it makes sense that the flu shot would produce an immune reaction and therefore fever with other symptoms. Is this not true? If so, why don’t doctors prepare us and tell us that we might feel sick for a few days after getting the shot due to our immune system doing what it needs to do? Are they afraid people won’t get the shot if they are told this?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Your comment is well-taken. I believe we all experience illness, and our immune response to illness, individually. And in my own life I’ve seen this differing immune response play out — I was the kid who never really ran a fever but felt like STINK when my brother would get the same illness and pop a 104 fever. He may have felt more miserable (who knows!) but as someone who has an immune system who doesn’t mount a big fever response I represent the other side.
I think you’re right. We may need to pay more attention to validating people’s experience of their immune system response after flu vaccine. The data on the flu vaccine is that mild reactions are common (and fever isn’t) in many people and rarely more serious side effects occur (GBS, for example). But we also know that flu vaccine simply CAN’T cause influenza infection (pieces of dead virus just can’t do that) but I agree — some people may experience malaise and achiness and sluggishness and general yuck after a vaccine as their immune system does what it’s supposed to do by making antibodies to protect them.
All this to say — flu vaccine can’t cause “flu” or influenza but it can cause your body to react — and we want it to. Would be nice to provoke the immune response without symptoms at all but it’s not always the case. In fact vaccine have been engineered and re-designed over the years to reduce side effects. A good example is the vaccine used to prevent pertussis (whooping cough). The whole cell vaccine was used previous to the the 1990’s and it provoked a big response. Many children would not only get big fevers after the injected vaccine but also the fevers could provoke seizures. VERY undesirable. So the vaccine was engineered as an “acellular” formulation. It’s less provoking and now rarely even causes fever and even more rarely seizures. But the trade-off is a vaccine that isn’t as effective at preventing pertussis — the acellular shot (DTap or Tdap) is safe and effective, doesn’t cause many side effects but also only provokes a protective immune response in about 80/100 people who get it. So it’s all a balance — safety first, efficacy next. And side effects – no one wants any.
Thanks for your comment. Will think on making some content to this point precisely.
Judy Butler says
I am hearing that persons allergic to latex rubber should not get the vaccine for senior adults. What should we get.
love desert says
One thing I noticed this year with flu vaccine is one day after getting the vaccine, I feel like I am fighting a cold with runny nose and fever 24/7…this has been going on for four weeks now and I am tired of it. If this is how my immune system reacts to the flu vaccine, I would rather not get the vaccine next year. And yes, I went to the doctor and they said “sounds like seasonal allergies.” Sorry I have been on allergy medicine all season and never had this happen until flu vaccine….next?
Same here. First time ever getting the flu shot… My daughter and I got the shot and my son was too scared so he did not and my other daughter was going to get it tomorrow. The next day we were both sick – fever, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, stomach aches, runny nose! My son and other daughter are not sick….is this a coincidence? No way! The reason I decided to get the shot was to prevent feeling this way! I feel stupid and I will never get the shot again.
I received the flu shot yesterday afternoon at Walgreens. Last evening I went to bed with an unusual stomach ache and still have it today. It is just a sour stomach feeling with gas pain. I never had this after a flu shot. I am otherwise, very healthy
I do have a flu shot every year
Similar experience says
Weird – me too 4 years ago. I got a flu shot from Walgreens and was sick for a month cough fever bacterial infection etc. I am pretty healthy and in mid thirties
As a medical provider I have recently began to recieve mandatory flu vaccination at work yearly. I am a believer in the science behind vaccines and have my children vaccinated with the recommended intervals. However the last three years I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the flu vaccine in that I have immediate malaise for the remainder of the day of vaccination and by that night I am having full blown flu symptoms (fever >101, chills, headache, body ache, intestinal upset, and ultimately coughing) these symptoms can take a week or more to taper off. I have been told by physicians on multiple occasions this is just “chance”. After a particularly severe reaction this year I’m calling BS on that theory. As the only three time I have been sick in the last 3 years is when I have had vaccinations. I just don’t get sick. At my previous employer, who did not require flu vaccination, I set the record for longest streak not using sick time. I would love to know of any literature that addresses elevated reaction to flu vaccination and people with better than average immune response. At this point I am think of joining a church that doesn’t “allow” vaccination so that I don’t have to go through this every year! End rant!
Jeffrey Ady says
I got the 4-strain flu shot, also from Walgreen’s, in September, and for the next EIGHT WEEKS I had the worst flu I’ve had in years: A full-body illness, including total respiratory inflammation, digestive system inflammation, and fairly bad joint pain. No fever, however. In retrospect I wish I would had gone febrile because my body may have killed this thing sooner.
I am not an “anti-vaxxer”, but I wish the medical community and their partners in the media and pro-vaccine blogs would drop the label. I know that won’t happen, though. My PCP, and internist, has been my doctor for 24 years. He told me that the WHO committee completely botched their “guess” on which 3 or 4 strains of flu virus would be active this year…and “goosed it up” with a bunch of unnecessary ingredients. There is too much money to be made on these vaccines. And I know enough about the literature after just a cursory review that the “science” is NOT “settled” on particularly the flu vaccine. While other family members have received the vaccine and done reasonably well, I will likely never again allow myself to be shot with any flu vaccine.
Now, I am only a PhD and have been doing and teaching SOCIAL science for 30 years…and am not using medical terminology or citing the latest published pro-vaccine research. So question my comments all you want. My opinion won’t be changed by straw-man arguments. My experience is my experience. THIS “human trial” returned a certain undesirable result! At least I know I will never get the 4-strain flu shot from Walgreen’s again.
Bill Hardison says
I get the flu shot every year now because I have a heart condition. For the last few years, I have also been having ongoing problems with kidney stones. Could the flu vaccine be related to kidney stones?
ALONA PICKETT says
NEED TO KNOW, IF YOU GET A FLU SHOT, ARE YOU SAFE TO BE WITH NEW BORN THE SAME DAY? CANNOT FIND ANY INFORMATION ON THE TIME BETWEEN GETTING THE SHOT AND THE SAFTY OF A NEW BORN TO EXPOSURE . WHAT IS TIME LINE.
I am 45 years old and got a flu shot from Walgreens 5 days ago. 2 days later I got flu like symptoms that has had me in bed the past 3 days. My appetite is gone, nausea, severe head congestion, feeling weak with slight body aches. I am a nurse so getting the flu shot is mandatory pretty much, especially working with the elderly. I can’t recall ever feeling like this after a flu shot. Had to take today off of work. Hope I will be better by tomorrow
Same here! I just received my flu shot a few hours ago. I’m very excited and look forward to it every year. I mark my calendar and like to do it early. Never got the flu or experienced any side effects after the shot. I thought feeling sick afterward was all in the mind. This is my 6th year in a row. Within 1 hour I began to feel a little achy, nauseous and my arm is sore. Out of nowhere, my nose ran for bit but went away. I was wrong, it definitely isn’t psychological. It didn’t hurt going in, but I did notice something new. A slight burning sensation when she administered the vaccine and now a sore arm. Since I was perfectly fine for 5 years, I thought my reaction was out of the ordinary. I came here to find out if the vaccine may have changed and/or how. Kind of bummed we are experiencing side effects, but I believe the vaccine is well worth it.
Lin Tayl says
I received a flu shot and the next day I was nauseous, achy, generally not feeling very well. Last just a day. Was this a reaction to the flu shot? I have a lot of allergies so figure this was just something else to ad to the list.
Raymond Finney says
Does an adequate vitamin D level (say, 50 – 70 ng/mL) provide equal or superior protection against influenza, as compared with the vaccine? If so– especially considering there are no side effects with vitamin D dosing and vitamin D does so much more than the “single tasker” of vaccination, would vitamin D not be a superior tactic to employ? See articles in Google Scholar. I know why pharmaceutical companies push vaccination ($$$), but is this the better option for people? I am confused.
Raymond Finney says
I have a firm policy of not responding to Internet articles, whether I agree or disagree. I made an exception this time. I withdraw my previous comment. Each reader should make his/her own decisions without my interference. Please disregard my earlier comment and make your own decisions. There are ample Internet articles for your use. Thank you.
Truthfully Informed says
Well said Raymond.
I compromised my integrity and got the flu shot. I am an employee at a hospital with zero patient contact. We have to get the shot or wear a mask or get fired. If you want to the shot great, but don’t bully people into it. When I refused to get the flu shot and had to wear the mask, I was looked at by staff and visitors like I had the plague. Maybe instead of pushing everyone to get the flu shot, maybe you should preach about hand hygiene, and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing by using your arm to shield the droplets and spray.
100% Yes! We teach preschoolers to “cough, sneeze, cover please” using their arm and every time they touch their nose to wash their hands. Why WON’T adults do it?!
I am in a healthcare program at a community college and these are the grossest people around. Their bathroom habits, instructor habits of coughing into their hands and then passing out papers to students…one week later you see classmates dropping like flies with illness. ADULTS have to make it a habit to cough and sneeze in their arm AND wash or sanitize EVERY time they touch their nose.
I received a flu shot on 10/31/17 from Walmart Pharmacy. Within 48 hours I noticed I had developed a rash, at that time mostly on my trunk area… since that time the rash is on my neck, arms, legs, as well as trunk. It is raised and red and itchy. I was told by my PCP office that it was likely a reaction to the flu injection I had and to take benedryl for itching. I have tried and tried to get more info on this. I saw someone had posted a comment about being allergic to latex. I have a sensitivity to latex. Is this related? … can I get more info about how long this rash should last? It’s been about 10 Days now.
Having grown up in India in the 1960s, I can tell you it amazes me how utterly stupid these First World Anti-Vaxers are! I probably took 300 vaccines for Small Pox to influenza etc. I consider my self to be pretty healthy. Run 3 miles couple of times a week.
Influenza virus has to be developed each year meticulously & it may not offer full protection against flu but the cumulative effect of these flu vaccines on older people as they age is a dead give away that they are worth it. Yes that’s an actually scientific study that flu vaccines works with varying degrees but long term protection it offers against flu is without a doubt a fact.
I got the flu shot in October I have the last 10 years because without the flu shot I end up with two different strains of the flu in one season that being said I am (62) at this moment the sickest I have been in 10 years it started with fatigue a splitting headache, temp of a 101, congestion in my lungs and head and everything is aching this is day two I guess my question is how could I have the flu when I’ve had the shot this has never happened to me before all the years I’ve had the flu shot now I’m wondering if its worth it to get the flu shot if I’m going to get it anyway? Please don’t say it makes the flu mild because I feel like I’m dying. My ribs hurt from coughing.. any suggestions?
I’m sorry but I used to be anti vax against the flu shot but my son this august came down with flu b and he couldn’t walk becaus the flu was attacking his muscles in his legs it was painful he was in tears he’s only 6 so I’m for sure getting my other kids vaccinated aginst it he can’t because he had such a severe reacting to the flu but his sibilings can to save his life
That is the most ridiculous I ever heard. Doubt it was from the flu.
it isn’t ridiculous, it’s called Compartment Syndrome and it’s a rare symptom of influenza. It’s also a very dangerous one. Do a search for “influenza”, “compartment syndrome” and “death”. It’s especially bad in kids.
Paul Plumb says
Anyone that trusts the CDC to tell the truth is sorely misled. If you really want to know about vaccines, go to http://www.vaccinesrevealed.com or worldmercuryproject.org – and note that these people are NOT anti-vaccine. Vaccines work as we know they have on polio and measles and more, but you need to learn more than what is on here.
Lets say your child is immunocompromised, and your family doesnt believe in flu shots let alone vaccines. What should I do? Child takes methotrexate and Humira.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Goodness, gracious. I’m so sorry – hard to know exactly what to do but I’d say I’d be really smart about making sure you spend time with those who are un-vaccinated only when they are well. There are some infections that are contagious before a lot of symptoms show, so it’s imperfect but I’d say bare minimum advice.
Family is so important and time with them is, too. But I’d work with your child’s team to affirm your ideas around keeping distance from others when ill, esp those without vaccines.
I had my flu shot at our pharmacy when they first became available. I have the flu right now. Not sure what to believe anymore.
Charles Mayfield says
I went to the Doc on a Monday for a heavy cough and throat. He ended up giving me a flu shot the next day I had cold sweats how sweats chills low grade fever nausea vomiting and basically unable to move. It was like whatever was put in my body my body was trying to get rid of it. I don’t think I will ever get a flu shot again. It has been 4 days now and I have not fully recovered. I’m rarely sick and haven’t been this sick in 20 years. I told the doc in an email but he didn’t seem concerned.
Tanasha Alderson says
The CDC and the paperwork given when getting flu shot states if you are allergic to eggs you cannot get the shot….this contains misinformation please check info.
Stacey Ulacia says
Thank you for reaching out. The CDC have updated their recommendations in the past few years. They now state:
“people with egg allergies no longer need to be observed for an allergic reaction for 30 minutes after receiving a flu vaccine. People with a history of egg allergy of any severity should receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate influenza vaccine. Those who have a history of severe allergic reaction to egg (i.e., any symptom other than hives) should be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (including but not necessarily limited to hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices), under the supervision of a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.”
More information and further details can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/egg-allergies.htm.
Lisa A says
Thank you for your informative article encouraging families to get vaccinated for the flu. We were on the fence year after year, sometimes I did it for me, for our boys, sometimes I skipped it. Last year my son got very sick for over week. We didn’t confirm it was the flu but man it was miserable and we decided every chance to NOT have to go through that again was worth the chance. Additionally, we lost a dear friend and teacher at our school this year. She got sick with the flu, hospitalized, ended up going septic throughout her body. She fought for several months, went home with a trache, not sure if she’d walk or talk again. She made huge strides but in the end she didn’t make it. Her death was a tragic, devastating loss. I don’t know if she was vaccinated for the flu or not but her story encourages me to get our family protected as much as we can. The flu is the most lethal pandemic in human history, worse than plague. I’m grateful we have an option that raised our odds of not getting it by half. Thank you again for the info.
Sarah Hale says
Thanks for this article – for some reason, we missed the advice that our kiddos (9 months and 3) needed 2 flu shots this year. I recall my 3-year-olds doctor saying, “see you next year” to him. Is this a new requirement? We plan to get them those ASAP (both have mild fevers so we are waiting) but wonder what it means in the interim. Is it like they never got the flu shot? Also, any advice about kids who are afraid to go to the doctor because they fear shots? My three-year-old is petrified (despite using buzzy the bee and distraction during his injection).
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Children need a second flu shot if:
1) infants and children under age 9 years getting flu vaccine for the very first time
2) children under age 9 if they have not had two doses before
Here’s more from CDC:
There are special vaccination instructions for children aged 6 months through 8 years of age
Some children 6 months through 8 years of age require two doses of influenza vaccine. Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season. All children who have previously gotten two doses of vaccine (at any time) only need one dose of vaccine this season. The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.
The second dose should be given at least 28 days after the first dose. The first dose “primes” the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.
If your child needs the two doses, begin the process early. This will ensure that your child is protected before influenza starts circulating in your community.
Be sure to get your child a second dose if he or she needs one. It usually takes about two weeks after the second dose for protection to begin.
Recommendations on the control and prevention of influenza are published annually, in late summer or early fall. Existing recommendations are available at Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Resources for Health Professionals.
I have gotten the flu shot for 6 out of the last 7 years. This year? My daughter got a rash on her arm that has gotten worse instead of better and her eyes swelled up. My husband’s eyes?? In 20 years, I have never seen him swell up over anything. I ended up with an elevated heart rate and unable to stand up or see or think clearly. I am pro flu shot and this is where we ended up with the latest version of the flu shot. I think this is a great post but is too lopsided. There is an actual possibility of reacting to the flu shot and I don’t think that possibility is well-covered here….
Carl LaRue says
Five months on, this artical and it’s push to get a flu shot is
proving to be bad advice. Eight of the nine deaths,in my area where vaccinated!
I had my flu injection this morning. After an hour I really start to feelijg sick.
I has a terrible headache, stuff neck and sever pain in my back, arms and legs. Even my throat and mouth was so sore I could only sip cold water.
I was so cold and had to switch of the aircon and but a blanket over me.
What an experience.
Rainee MacKinnon says
I had my first flu shot several years ago and I don’t know what went on with me but a few hours later I became weak, lost my appetite and just laid in bed for a week it was bizarre. I suffer from depression so I was thinking it was an episode but none like I ever encountered. So, the next year I skipped the shot and thankfully didn’t get the flu. I’m a Grandmother and live alone and decided it was worth another try and did fine. Just got my shot today, felt a little nausea and had a headache. If I get the flu I’m on my own and scarier to me than the shot. I wish everyone the best!
Hi Dr. Swanson: my daughter will be turning 6 months old in November, and getting her flu shot then. Her nanny is very resistant to getting a flu shot, and currently does not have this immunization.
Do you think it will be okay if our daughter is immunized as of November, and our nanny remains without the shot? Or, should we continue to impress upon our nanny to get immunized?
Brad Harmon says
I’m a 65 year old male and, about 10 days ago, got the 2018 flue shot. Several days later, I started getting really bad night sweats–the sheets were drenched. This has gone on for about 6 or 7 days now. My doc asked me to take my temperature right when I awaken from the night sweats. Normal temperature. Since I have no health issues and am not on any medication, he believes it’s a reaction to the flu shot that will abate soon.
My hormone levels are normal or that would be another possibility. Just wanted to share in case this happens to anyone else.
I had flu shot yesterday and today my vein in the arm that I received it in is swollen and has a bubble like appearance. The shot wasn’t given near the large vein at the bend in arm. It hurts somewhat and it is red around the vein.
Should I be concerned. I have never had this happen before. I am in my early seventies.
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