Answers to Common Questions about Flu Vaccine Safety

Answers to Common Questions about Flu Vaccine Safety

>>Hi, I’m Dr. Claudia Vellozzi with the CDC Immunization
Safety Office. Today I’ll provide answers to common questions people
have regarding the safety of influenza or flu vaccines. I will begin with the
question are flu vaccines safe? Over the years hundreds
of millions of people in the United States have safely
received seasonal flu vaccines. Every year the CDC works
closely with the Food and Drug Administration,
or the FDA, to ensure the highest safety
standards for flu vaccines. For flu vaccines to be approved
for use in the United States, manufacturers must
meet strict standards to make sure they are
free of contaminants and the potency is appropriate. Once the flu vaccines
are appropriate for use, CDC and FDA ensure systems
are in place to detect and investigate possible health
problems following vaccination. The next question is who
should get the flu vaccines? Flu vaccines are recommended
each year for everyone who is six months
of age and older. People with severe and life
threatening egg allergies should consult a medical professional
before being vaccinated. Next, what side effects can
occur from a flu vaccination? The most common reaction to the
injected flu shot is soreness around the injection site. Other mild problems may
include redness or swelling where the shot was given, and occasionally
fever and body aches. If these problems occur,
they usually begin soon after receiving the shot,
may last for one to two days, and resolve on their own. Common side effects from the
nasal spray flu vaccine include runny nose, headache,
and sore throat. Life threatening
allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare. If they do occur it is within
a few minutes to a few hours after vaccination, and effective
treatments are available. Signs of a serious reaction to vaccination can include
difficulty breathing, hoarseness, wheezing
, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. Syncope, or fainting following
vaccination can also occur. Vaccine providers should
strongly consider observing patients for 15 minutes
after they are vaccinated. If syncope develops, patients
should be observed till the symptoms resolve. Another common question is, is the flu vaccine
safe if I’m pregnant? Well, the answer is yes. Flu shots are safe for pregnant
women and their unborn babies. Millions of pregnant women
have received the flu shot over many years. Getting the flu shot
protects both pregnant women and their unborn babies from
birth up to six months of age from flu and related
complications. The nasal spray vaccine is not
recommended for pregnant women. The flu shot can be given at
any time during pregnancy, and it is safe for women who
are breastfeeding or plan to breast feed their child. Breastfeeding mothers that have
been vaccinated can pass the protective antibodies through
the breast milk to the infant. Which can then reduce
the infant’s chance of getting sick with the flu. This is especially important for
infants less than six months old who have no other way to
receive protective antibodies since they are too
young to be vaccinated. The next two questions
deal with the safety of the vaccine ingredient
thimerosal. The first question
is what is thimerosal and why is it used
in some flu vaccines. Thimerosal is a very effective
ethylmercury-containing preservative that has been
used for more than 70 years to prevent contamination such as
the growth of bacteria or fungi in some types of vaccines where multiple doses are
drawn from a single vial. Thimerosal is, in fact, an important ingredient
contributing to the safety of multi-dose vials of vaccines. Flu vaccines that are packaged in multi-dose vials do contain
thimerosal as a preservative. Other types of flu
vaccines that come packaged in individual syringes or as individual units do
not contain thimerosal. Additionally, the nasal spray and high dose injectable
flu vaccines do not contain thimerosal. So the next question is should I
be concerned about flu vaccines that contain thimerosal? There is a large amount
of scientific evidence on the safety of
thimerosal in vaccines. Data from several studies show
the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines do not cause
harm and are only associated with minor reactions,
like redness and swelling at the injection site. Furthermore, many well-conducted
scientific studies have shown no association between thimerosal
and vaccines and autism or neurologic problems
in children. We do recognize that
parents may still be worried about thimerosal
in flu vaccines, and there are thimerosal-free
flu vaccines available as an option. Both for the inject able and nasal spray types
of flu vaccine. Another concern about the safety of flu vaccines involves
Guillain-Barre’ syndrome, or GBS. A common question is does
the flu vaccine cause GBS. GBS is a relatively rare
neurological disorder that causes muscle weakness
and sometimes paralysis. In the United States
an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop
GBS each year on average. Or about 80 to 160
cases each week whether or not they have
received the vaccination. Anyone can develop GBS. However, it is more
common in older adults, especially those
ages 50 and older. Many health conditions have
been associated with GBS. About two-thirds of people
who develop GBS symptoms do so several days or weeks
after they have been sick with diarrhea or a
respiratory illness. Infection with a bacterium
campylobacter jejuni , a common cause of
food poisoning, is one of the most common
risk factors for GBS. People can also develop
GBS after having the flu or other infections,
such as cytomegalovirus or Epstein-Barr virus. And sometimes GBS
develops following surgery. On very rare occasions, people
may develop GBS in the days or weeks after getting
a flu vaccination. There is some data that suggest
flu vaccination may result in a small increased
risk for developing GBS. This increased risk
is on the order of one to two additional cases of GBS
per million persons vaccinated. This risk needs to be
placed in the context of the known benefits
of flu vaccination in preventing flu illness. Finally, you may ask do flu
vaccines cause febrile seizures in children. Febrile seizures
can be frightening for a child’s caregiver and
parents, but nearly all children who have a febrile
seizure recover quickly and are healthy afterwards. Febrile seizures can
happen with any condition that causes a fever, including
common childhood illnesses like the cold, flu, ear
infection, or roseola. Since vaccinations may
be associated with fever, febrile seizures can also
happen following vaccination, although rarely. In general, most febrile
seizures occur in children between the ages of
6 months and 5 years, and this age group
is recommended to receive flu vaccine annually. CDC studied the healthcare
visit records of more than 200,000 children 6
months through 4 years of age who received flu vaccine. The analysis found that febrile
seizures following the flu shot in this age group did
occur but were rare. The febrile seizures were most
common in children ages 12 to 23 months when the influenza
shot and another vaccine, the 13 valent pneumococcal
conjugate vaccine or PCB 13, were given together during
the same healthcare visit. In this group about one
additional febrile seizure occurred in every 2 to
3,000 children vaccinated. After thoroughly evaluating this
information and assessing this in the context of the benefits
of both flu vaccination and PCB 13 vaccination CDC
determined that no changes in the childhood immunization
schedule were necessary. In summary, CDC places
a high priority on vaccine safety
surveillance and research. CDC and FDA continuously
monitor the safety of vaccines recommended
for children and adults in the United States. Flu vaccines have
been used for decades and have an excellent
safety record. This concludes the CDC video
on answers to common questions about flu vaccine safety. Thank you for watching. For more information
on flu vaccine safety, please visit the CDC flu vaccine
safety page provided here, and for more information
related to flu and the flu vaccine please
visit the CDC flu web page at

One Reply to “Answers to Common Questions about Flu Vaccine Safety”

  1. CDC – you are a corrupt organization. The American people do not trust you and are not buying your propaganda.

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