Does the Flu vaccine have any side effects?

About flu
Last updated: 11/11/23
ANSWER BY: Dr Richard Dawood Medical Director
Date Added: 09/08/21

Flu vaccines are very safe but like all vaccinations, there are side effects. Most people experience mild side effects which only usually last a day or two and are more a nuisance rather than anything to be particularly concerned about.

The commonest problems after a flu vaccination are:

  • slight soreness of the arm at the point where the injection was given
  • slight temperature and aching muscles – this is less common and responds easily to remedies like paracetamol
  • redness and irritation at the injection site, sometimes lasting 2 or 3 days – this responds readily to taking ibuprofen and applying a cold flannel

The risk of more serious reactions is extremely rare – of the order of one in a million, or less; and considerably smaller than the risk of serious complications from the flu virus itself.

If you are concerned you can speak with your doctor prior to vaccination or at the time of vaccination. They will be able to address your concerns and offer guidance. There are seldom any circumstances where flu vaccine is inadvisable, since it is a proven safe and effective way to protect even the most vulnerable people against the flu.

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