Flu Shot Effects
Who should not get the flu vaccine (consult your doctor first):
- People with a severe allergy to chicken eggs
- People who have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past
- People who developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in the past within 6 weeks of getting the vaccine.
- Children less than 6 months of age
- People with a moderate to severe sickness at the time of the vaccine should wait until they get better.
Possible side effects of the flu shot:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where shot was given
- Low-grade fever
- Difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, or dizziness are signs of a rare, but serious, allergic reaction
Who should not get the nasal spay vaccine (consult your doctor first):
- Adults 50 years of age and older or children from 6 through 23 months.
- Pregnant women.
- People of any age with certain medical conditions, such as chronic heart or lung disorders, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, kidney or liver problems, asthma, or anemia and other blood disorders.
- Anyone with a nasal condition that makes breathing difficult.
- People who have an impaired immune system or who are receiving medications that affect their immunity, as well as their close contacts, such as caregivers or family members.
- People younger than 20 who are on long-term aspirin therapy, because of their increased risk for developing Reye's Syndrome.
- Anyone who is allergic to eggs or any component of the vaccine.
- People with a history of Guillain-Barr syndrome (GBS).
Anyone who has a high fever should not be given the vaccine. The vaccine can still be given if an otherwise healthy person has a minor illness, such as a cold.
Possible side effects of nasal spray (LAIV):
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Runny nose, nasal congestion, or cough
- Abdominal pain and vomiting
- Muscle aches
Signs of a rare, but serious, allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, weakness, and dizziness.
How to Prevent the Flu
- Avoid close contact.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose.
- Clean your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits such as getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
Treating the Flu
If you do get the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications such as amantadine, rimantadine, zanamavir, or oseltamivir. These medications are most effective if taken with 2 days of developing the flu, so if you have flu symptoms, see your doctor early. If you have the flu, your doctor may also recommend plenty of rest, lots of liquids, and no alcohol or tobacco. Acetaminophen may be recommended but aspirin should not be given to children or teen-agers who develop flu symptoms, especially fever. See your pediatrician if your child has flu symptoms.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm (Accessed 7/6/11).
PREVIOUS: The Flu, Flu Shots, and Diabetes
Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, M.D. 01/13.
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