The seasonal flu is capable of causing serious and life-threatening complications especially among high-risk groups such as children below 4 years old, pregnant women, elderly and those who have chronic health issues such as asthma, diabetes or lung diseases.
Getting a flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu virus which is why it is recommended for children 6 months and older to receive the flu vaccine every year. Many individuals can tolerate the flu vaccine but those who have certain types of allergies must be careful until they are cleared by a doctor.
Vaccines for flu
The flu vaccine contains a minimal dose of killed or weakened flu viruses that stimulates the body to establish immunity within 2 weeks. Take note that the nasal spray flu vaccine is comprised of weakened influenza viruses. It is suitable for healthy individuals starting at 2 years old up to 49 years old. The potential side effects from the nasal flu vaccine are usually limited to mild wheezing or runny nose.
As for a flu shot, it contains killed flu viruses and available in 3 forms. The regular and high-dosage vaccines are injected into a muscle. The low dosage form is injected into the skin. This is also called an intradermal flu vaccine that is suitable for ages 18-64 years old. Those who receive the flu shot can suffer from soreness and redness at the site of the injection along with low fever, headache and muscle aches.
Even though allergic reactions are considered rare, some components of the flu vaccine can trigger mild to severe reactions in some individuals. These components include antibiotics used to prevent growth of bacteria, egg proteins and preservatives. The symptoms usually manifest within a few minutes up to several hours after receiving a vaccination.
The mild allergic reactions are usually limited to the area around the site of the injection. The skin can become itchy and red, swollen and even lumpy. In some cases, blisters can also develop. In severe cases of allergic reactions, the symptoms include widespread hives, dizziness, swelling of the lips, rapid heart rate, hoarseness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, shock, loss of consciousness and swelling under the skin. It is important to seek medical care if the individual experiences any of these symptoms since they are life-threatening. You can enroll in a first aid class to learn more about proper management of allergies.
Thimerosal is basically a preservative that contains mercury that is utilized in some flu vaccines. An allergic reaction to thimerosal is uncommon but can occur. These reactions are usually mild and limited to the skin close to the injection site. Even though this is still used to control fungal and bacterial growth in multi-dose vials of flu vaccines, the use of this preservative has decreased since 2001.
The flu vaccine is comprised of egg proteins since the component viruses are cultured in chicken eggs. If an individual has egg allergy, he/she can experience a reaction to the vaccine. Those who have severe allergy to eggs that involves breathing issues or serious symptoms must consult a doctor first before getting a flu shot.
Those who have mild egg allergy that only result to hives can be given the flu shot in a setting where the doctor can identify and manage an allergic reaction if it occurs. Individuals who have egg allergy must not take the nasal spray form of the vaccine.