During the winter months many people suffer from the flu and while the majority of people don't have too much of a problem with the symptoms that come along with it, there are others whose immune systems are too weak to protect them from the onslaught brought on by the illness. Getting the flu shot helps protect most people from contracting the illness. What should you know before you get one?

Can You Get Sick From the Vaccine?

Flu vaccines are very safe with millions of people getting the shot over many years. The vaccine has been extensively researched so the chances of it doing you harm are very slim. You might worry that the shot itself can make you sick, such as contracting the flu anyway. This does not happen as the vaccine does not cause the flu to occur within your body. The shots usually contain an inactivated virus or a synthesized version of the flu strain suspected to occur that year. The vaccine is meant to boost your immune system to fight against the actual flu.

Side Effects

While it doesn't happen with all people who receive the vaccine, there are some side effects you should be aware of. These should be mild and go away after a few days, if they don't, then see your doctor. You might experience soreness, redness or swelling around the area where you had the injection, headache, a mild fever, muscle aches or nausea. For some people, since it's an injection, it could cause fainting.

Some side effects can be more worrying and they don't occur in the majority of those who get it. For example, one could experience difficulty breathing, wheezing, swelling around the lips or eyes, hives, weakness, a fast heartbeat, dizziness and even gain a pale complexion.

Life-threatening reactions are very rare and would occur within minutes to a couple of hours after receiving the shot. If any major symptoms occur, you should see your doctor or head to the hospital immediately.

Who Should Not Receive It?

While the flu shot is recommended for most people, there are some who should avoid it. For example, children under the age of 6 months or those with severe to life-threatening allergies to any of the ingredients in the shot itself should avoid it. People with severe egg allergies should skip the shot too. Pregnant women can receive the shot as it will help to protect them and their babies from the flu should they be exposed to the virus.

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