Risks of the Flu shot

risks-of-flu-shotMany people receive the flu shot seasonally because they feel it protects them from contracting the virus. However, the flu vaccine has a host of risks that can lead to serious complications.

Side Effects

While the flu shot cannot cause the flu because the vaccine contains an active strain, there are risks involved. The most common symptoms of the flu are mild. These symptoms can include redness, muscle ache, and soreness of the injection site. Headaches, a low-grade fever, and nausea can occur after vaccinations as well. A common reaction to injections is fainting. 


Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is one of the most noted injuries to occur after a flu shot. GBS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system.  The flu shot can cause GBS.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can also happen after flu vaccinations. These allergic responses usually occur soon after an injection, normally a few minutes or hours after the vaccination. Severe reactions to the flu vaccine can include difficulty breathing, wheezing or hoarseness. Hives, swelling of the lips and eyes are immediate indicators of an allergic reaction to the flu shot. Patients who have allergic responses to the flu vaccine can also have paleness or weakness, as well as a fast heartbeat and dizziness. If these severe reactions occur, call 9-1-1 immediately.

People who should not get the vaccine

There are people who are warned not to receive the flu vaccine. Children under 6 months old are warned to not receive the flu vaccine because of their underdeveloped immune systems. A portion of flu vaccines are developed with an egg grown virus. People with allergies to eggs are directed to another vaccine that will not cause an allergic reaction. Individuals that have had GBS in the past are told not to receive the flu shot to prevent future reactions.

The reactions and safety of this vaccine are monitored by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and the Vaccine Safety Datalink. Receiving the flu shot is something that is encouraged by most doctors and the potential side effects are seldom discussed and often dismissed. This gives people a false sense of security that the flu shot can do no harm. In fact, the opposite is true; the risk of complication is real and should be carefully considered.


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