It is recommended that everyone over the age of six-months get a flu vaccine every season. There are different types of flu shots for various ages, those with allergies, and people with certain medical conditions. Talk with your primary provider about the best vaccine to prevent you from catching influenza during flu season this year.
Some common side-effects of a flu shot are:
- Pain or irritation at the injection site. This should subside within 24-hours; if not, contact your provider.
- Stiffness in muscles or limbs, overall feelings of
achiness. This is common and can be relieved with some preventative measures.
- Headache. A slight headache is not uncommon after a flu shot, but should be evaluated by your doctor if pain persists.
- Allergic reactions, including hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Immediately contact your doctor and ask about an epi-pen for severe reactions in the future.
- Fever. Any fever over 101 degrees is uncommon and should be addressed by a physician.
- Dizziness. A little dizziness is not uncommon, though it may require that you lay-low or sit down following your vaccination.
Some ways to reduce discomfort after your shot include:
Stay loose. Make sure to relax your muscles during the shot and try to keep your hand and arm loose. This will reduce discomfort and stiffness later.
Keep it cold. Try icing your injection site to avoid swelling and discomfort right after your shot. Some providers suggest that warm packs will also soothe the pain, though heat doesn't help with inflammation.
Take something. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever with an anti-inflammatory component. This may also help reduce fever.
Watch the salt. Cut down on salt before and after flu shots. Salt tends to make you retain water, which can contribute to the swelling after your flu shot.
Get back in the swing. Make sure that you use your arm after the shot; move it around and keep the blood flowing.
Try something else. If there are some significant reasons why you should not have a flu shot, ask about a nasal flu vaccine, which is often available for babies or elderly patients. Your provider will know which vaccine is the best for you.
Don't let these side-effects deter you from getting your flu shot this season; it is estimated that flu vaccines cut incidences of the flu in half. Talk to your provider about the best vaccine based on your age and medical history, and prepare for your shot by considering these tips to reduce discomfort afterward.