Categories: Vaccine

Possible side effects of flu shot

Discover the Possible side effects of flu shot.

Like all medicines and health products, the flu shot can cause side effects.

But all health authorities agree that the benefits of vaccination, especially in people at risk far outweigh the risks associated with its use.

The influenza virus affects  2 to 8 million people in France each year. The consequences of this infection can be very serious, especially in people over 65, people with chronic illnesses, immunocompromised or obese as well as pregnant women or infants. The best way to protect yourself from the flu is still vaccination. 

Contraindications of the flu vaccine

The flu vaccine has very few contraindications and can even be used at all stages of pregnancy, in women who are breastfeeding and in children from 6 months of age.

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As this is an inactivated virus vaccine, there is no risk of developing the disease due to the application of the vaccine.

The only contraindications concern:

People with hypersensitivity  ;

People with an allergy to any component of the vaccine and in particular to egg, ovalbumin, chicken protein, or antibiotics  (especially neomycin or gentamicin).

To avoid any risk,  refer to the package leaflet and carefully read the composition of the vaccine and its excipients. If in doubt, do not hesitate to consult your doctor before getting vaccinated.

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Flu vaccine: generally mild and temporary side effects

As with all vaccines, tolerance to the influenza vaccine is assessed during clinical trials and then following reports of adverse events reported during postmarketing post-marketing surveillance.

The effects reported in clinical trials are frequent but mild. They usually go away after a day or two without treatment. These reactions are:

•Headache ;

•Sweats ;

•Muscle or joint pain ;

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•Fever  ;

•Discomfort ;

•Chills ;

•Fatigue ;

Reactions at the injection site (redness, swelling, pain, hardness).

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List of side effects of influenza vaccine (post-marketing)

Adverse events recorded during post-marketing surveillance are in addition to those observed during clinical trials. Their frequency is  rare to very rare and includes:

•Blood and lymphatic system disorders: transient decrease in platelets, lymphadenopathy  ;

•Of disorders of the immune system: allergic reactions which can lead to shock in rare cases or to angioedema  ;

•Of nervous system disorders: Neuralgia, paraesthesia, febrile convulsions, neurological disorders such as encephalomyelitis, neuritis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome  ;

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•Of vascular diseases: vasculitis with transient renal involvement (very rare);

•Some skin conditions and subcutaneous tissue: itching, hives, rash non-specific.

The flu shot: the benefits outweigh the risks

It is important to remember that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

All French health authorities recommend influenza vaccination for adults, the most effective way to protect yourself from the virus.

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In addition, the vaccine is covered by Health Insurance for people at risk of complications. 

However,  vaccination coverage remains insufficient in France with less than one in two people at risk vaccinated while the objectives set by the World Health Organization (WHO) are 75%.

The Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) recently published recommendations aimed at extending the skills of nurses, midwives, and pharmacists in the area of vaccination. 

Flu: when to postpone vaccination?

In France, it is recommended to postpone vaccination in people with a febrile state (with fever).

In these cases, it is necessary to wait a few days after the fever has subsided before applying the flu vaccine. Vaccination should also be postponed in cases of acute illness with fever. 

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Influenza vaccine: useful precautions

To avoid any surprise or inconvenience, it is recommended:

•Wait 15 minutes before leaving the area where the vaccine was administered  ;

•In the event of symptoms, immediately inform the healthcare professional who administered the vaccine to receive treatment if necessary;

•Once at home, apply a cold compress in case of redness or swelling at the injection site;

•In case of pain or fever, take an analgesic.

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