Autumn is here, and with it cold and flu season. Millions of Americans will soon seek out a flu shot to minimize their risk of contracting the disease, whether at the behest of their doctor, their friends, or their family.
Even though the flu vaccine is largely effective, many people forgo the shot. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer than half of Americans get flu shots each year.
The flu vaccine works by targeting the three or four strains of the influenza virus that research has indicated will be the most common during the upcoming season. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated, especially those above the age of 65.
For folks who don’t like needles, there are other ways to get the vaccine. Nasal sprays are increasingly popular. Research shows that this is the best option for kids aged 2 through 8.
There are some people who should not get flu shots — including those who are allergic to eggs or other ingredients in the vaccine, such as gelatin and certain antibiotics.
The flu shot is generally harmless, but it can pose negative side effects. They’re often mild, ranging from pain at the site of injection to a sore throat or fever.
Sometimes, however, the side effects can be much worse. In rare situations, the flu shot can cause what’s known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). This is a neurological condition that causes weakness and paralysis throughout one’s entire body and requires immediate hospitalization.
The symptoms of GBS last for weeks. They can include “pins and needles” sensations in the hands and feet, labored breathing, unsteadiness when walking, and difficulty with facial movements such as speaking or swallowing.
Patients can recover from GBS, but not all do. The condition can develop into Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, or CIDP. The onset of CIPD is slow, with a gradual weakening of the legs and the arms. Those with the disease have difficulty walking, which gets progressively worse as the months continue. Other symptoms include tingling and abnormal sensations and a loss of control over reflexes. People suffering from CIDP experience neurological dysfunction for years with little relief.
Severe shoulder injuries are another potential side effect of a flu shot. If the shot is improperly administered, patients can develop SIRVA — Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration. SIRVA is a result of damage to the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder. People with the condition complain of limited arm motion, and in some cases, develop shoulder tendinitis. In rare cases, surgery is required to repair the damage.
As the weather cools, consider whether the flu vaccine is right for you. And if you opt not to have the shot, minimize your risk of contracting the virus by following these simple tips from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm.
If you have suffered from a negative flu shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a flu shot, please contact us today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.