Q. What are the risks from getting a flu shot?
The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. The risk of a flu shot causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, may rarely cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.
Q. What are the side effects that could occur?
Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given Fever (low grade) Aches If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days.
Q. Can severe problems occur?
Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. If they do occur, it is within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot.
These reactions are more likely to occur among persons with a severe allergy to eggs, because the viruses used in the influenza vaccine are grown in hens' eggs. People who have had a severe reaction to eggs or to a flu shot in the past should not get a flu shot before seeing a physician.
Q. What should I do if I have had a serious reaction to influenza vaccine?
- Call a doctor, or get to a doctor right away. Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when you got the flu shot.
- Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form, or call VAERS at 1-800-822-7967.
Q. How can I learn more about influenza vaccine?
- Ask your doctor or nurse. They can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
- Call your local or state health department
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at: 1-800-232-2522 (English) 1-800-232-0233 (Español)