Best Practices After Getting a Flu Vaccine
Knowing what to do after getting a flu vaccine can save lives. Should you be confident that you are protected from contracting Influenza?
Seasonal Influenza shots protect against the three or four Influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season.
There are several flu prevention options to choose from, but the most important practice is for all people 6 months and older to get an Influenza vaccine every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional. More information on approved Influenza vaccines for the 2019-2020 Influenza season, and age indications for each vaccine are available in CDC’s Table: U.S. Influenza Vaccine Products for the 2019-20 Season. (CDC 2019)
Flu Vaccine Facts
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and Influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu virus every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children (CDC 2019).
Frequently Asked Questions About the Flu Vaccine
What is the flu vaccine made of?
Flu shot injections contain several ingredients which include small amounts of deactivated virus. They also contain small amounts of chicken egg protein which is used to grow the vaccine. The egg protein is removed before the vaccine is made for use in humans. The CDC say that the flu shot is typically safe for people with egg allergies, but those who have an egg allergy must mention it to the doctor before receiving the shot. (Silva 2018)
What are side-effects of getting the flu?
Most side effects from the flu vaccine are mild. People have reported symptoms like:
- tenderness, redness, and swelling of the skin around the shot
Call your doctor or go to an emergency room right away if you have any of these more serious side effects:
- trouble breathing or wheezing
- swelling of the eyes or lips
- fast heartbeat
If you have a flu vaccine, can you still get the flu?
The flu virus is 40-60% effective. While not 100% effective, it is still important – especially for those in vulnerable populations (infants, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems) to get an annual flu shot. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, it’s important to follow additional prevention activities such as those available in our article Flu Prevention Tips.
How long does it take for the flu vaccine to take effect?
It can take up to 2 weeks for the vaccine to take effect.
My child was vaccinated for the flu and there is an outbreak at his school. Do I need to do anything in addition to the vaccine to prevent him from getting the flu?
Be proactive and vigilant when it comes to flu outbreaks at school. Each school district has its own protocol. Check your local school district website for flu prevention recommendations.
My family has had the flu vaccine and my child is exhibiting flu symptoms. What should I do?
If a family member is high risk for complications of the flu (infants, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems) it is urgent that you seek immediate medical care. Don’t second guess symptoms. If fever, vomiting, cough, sneezing, body aches are present, it is important to be tested immediately for the flu virus. There are prescription drugs available to reduce symptoms and mitigate complications if the patient is treated within 2-3 days.
We know healthcare can be complicated and that we often must advocate for the health of our family. When it comes to the flu virus, getting vaccinated, staying informed about flu strains each year and holding schools and public places accountable for helping communities stay healthy are ways to stay vigilant.
When flu vaccines fail, we don’t. Our Board-certified ER Physicians are standing by to treat the influenza virus and its complications.
“Seasonal Flu Shot.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Dec. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.
“Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Dec. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm.
Watson, Stephanie. “Flu Shot Ingredients: What’s in It and Is It Safe?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 Sept. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/flu-shot-ingredients#side-effects.
Silva, Joana Cavaco. “Flu Shot Ingredients: What They Contain and Why.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 14 Mar. 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321207.php.