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Flu jab side effects: What are the side effects of the flu jab?

If you are interested in getting a flu jab this year, you can do so on the NHS from your GP, a local pharmacy offering the service or your midwifery service if they offer it to pregnant women. Some community pharmacies now also offer flu vaccines to adults, but not children. If you have a flu jab at a pharmacy or anywhere else, you do not need to inform your GP, it’s up to the pharmacist taking care of you to do that.

What are the side effects of the flu jab?

Side effects of the flu jab tend to be quite mild in most people.

While you may develop flu-like symptoms in response to the vaccination, these symptoms are usually milder than if you were to actually catch the flu.

Side effect symptoms normally clear up without any treatment within a two or three day period.

Side efforts of the nasal spray vaccine can commonly include a runny or blocked nose, a headache, tiredness and some loss of appetite. 

The main side effects of the flu jab include:

  • Fever/shivering
  • Headache
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Redness, soreness, swelling and itching where you were injected
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Feeling generally unwell or under the weather, sometimes called malaise

While it is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, this is also very rare.

The main allergen in the flu jab is egg, although a number of vaccines used by pharmacies are safe to those allergic to eggs, depending on the severity of the allergy.

The nurse should go through a full consultation with you before giving you your jab.

If you think you could be having an allergic reaction to the flu jab, which will come on very suddenly, based on any symptoms below, seek medical help as soon as possible by calling 999.

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Key signs of an allergic reaction to the flu jab include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling around the eyes, lips, tongue and/or throat
  • Wheezing
  • Hives (itchy red bumps)
  • Becoming pale and clammy
  • Feeling weak, confused or anxious
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Blacking out / losing consciousness
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or stomach pain

How do I manage the side effects of the flu jab?

If you have a sore arm after the vaccine, try to keep moving your arm to increase circulation to the area, which will stop your muscles becoming stiff and can help you recover faster.

If you develop fever symptoms after the jab, keep yourself cool at all time.

Drink enough fluids and make sure to get enough rest, but if the symptoms persist after more than three days, contact your GP.

If you are concerned about the side effects you are experiencing, you can get in contact with NHS 111 who will be able to offer advice and support.

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