Who Should Get the Vaccine and Are There Side Effects?

Side Effects of the Influenza Vaccine

Approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of people who get the influenza vaccine will have mild side effects for about a day after vaccination. The most common side effect in children and adults is soreness at the site of the vaccination. Other side effects, especially in children who previously have not been exposed to the flu virus, include:
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Sore muscles.
These side effects of the influenza vaccine may begin 6 to 12 hours after vaccination and may last for up to 2 days.
Viruses used for producing the influenza vaccine are grown in chicken eggs and then killed with a chemical so that they can no longer cause an infection. As a result, the influenza vaccine may contain some egg protein, which can cause an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to eggs or have ever had a serious allergic reaction to the influenza vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you consult with your healthcare provider before getting vaccinated.

Who Should Get the Influenza Vaccine?

People who are in any of the following groups, or live in a household with someone who is, should get the influenza vaccine:
  • You are 50 years of age or older
  • You have chronic diseases of your heart, lungs, or kidneys
  • You have diabetes
  • Your immune system does not function properly
  • You have a severe form of anemia
  • You will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season
  • You live in a nursing home or other chronic-care housing facility
  • You are in close contact with children 23 months of age or younger.
The CDC recommends that children 6 months to 23 months of age get the influenza vaccine. Children and teenagers (2 to 18 years of age) should get the influenza vaccine if they are taking long-term aspirin treatment, as they may be at risk of developing Reye's syndrome following a flu infection. Children should also get the influenza vaccine if they live in a household with someone in the above-mentioned groups. Healthcare providers and volunteers should get the influenza vaccine if they work with people in any of these groups.
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