The Flu Vaccine: Rare but Serious Side Effects

When cooler weather sets in and the leaves change from green to red, orange, and gold, thousands of us flock to our medical providers to get the annual flu vaccine.

While the vaccine is largely effective in preventing or minimizing cases of the flu virus, and while most individuals don’t experience any negative effects as a result of getting the shot, it’s important to educate yourself about the rare but serious side effects the vaccine can cause.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

One of the most prominent rare but dangerous side effects you may get from receiving the flu shot is Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). GBS harms the peripheral nervous system when the body’s immune system attacks healthy nerve cells. As a result, muscles weaken and, in severe cases, paralysis may occur.

The level of severity ranges from case to case. Some individuals are able to maintain their freedom and mobility while others are so debilitated they require the use of a ventilator to breathe.

This autoimmune disease typically affects those 50 years of age or older, although there have been reported cases in young children and young adults as well.

Recognizing the Symptoms

While it’s normal to experience some mild reactions after receiving the flu shot, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of serious reactions. If you or your child experiences any of the following, you’ll want to seek immediate medical attention as this could be a sign of GBS:

  • Tingling in your fingers or toes
  • Weakness in your legs that feels like it’s moving up your body
  • Difficulty keeping your balance
  • Feeling like you’re unable to properly chew and swallow food
  • Problems breathing

Weighing the Pros and Cons

While serious adverse reactions are extremely rare, it’s still important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the flu vaccination before making a decision to get the shot. Knowing the associated risks and their symptoms will ensure you are equipped with the knowledge you need to make decisions quickly in the event of a serious reaction.

Remember, although your chances of developing GBS after getting the shot are low, it does happen. In fact, we have represented numerous clients who suffer from GBS as a result of receiving the vaccine.

Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

If you or a loved one experienced serious medical reactions after receiving the flu shot, you may qualify for benefits from the national Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Learn more about VICP today!