The People's Perspective on Medicine

Scary Reaction to Flu Shot

Q. I was given a flu shot at a routine doctor visit. Afterwards, I didn’t feel well. I went to bed early and slept for over 11 hours.

The following day, I began to have difficulty breathing. I thought of going to the emergency room but waited and saw my doctor on the third day. By that time it was harder and harder for me to breathe.

The doctor found my lungs were clear, my heart was strong, and my blood-oxygen saturation was normal at 98. He said I was having an “abnormal or allergic reaction to the shot.”

Today is day 6. I’m breathing almost normally again but I wish I’d been warned this could happen. On the government website for flu vaccine, “breathing difficulty” is listed as a serious reaction to the vaccine!

A. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) describe common vaccine side effects as runny nose, sore throat, headache or cough in addition to soreness and redness at the injection site.

They note, however,

“Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, swelling around the eyes or lips, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.”

There are new flu vaccines that are not grown in eggs (one reason for allergic reactions). Those who know they are allergic to eggs might ask about Flucelvax or Flublok.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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In October of 2016 I received–for the first time–a flu shot for those 65 and over. I was 73 years old. I’ve had flu shots before and never had a problem. It is now January 2018 and ever since I had the shot I have been experiencing the following: flushing of the face, eyes feel hot, ears turn red and feel hot, and an increase in blood pressure.

These episodes occur at various times without warning: watching TV, using the computer, at the casino.
Has anyone else experienced this?

I’ve had flu shots before, and I’ve never I’ve had enough of those to know it wasn’t. I have been hacking and coughing and having my sinuses drain constantly.

My nurse practitioner (because since Obama care I haven’t been able to see a real doctor except in the ER) diagnosed me with normal seasonal allergies. But I have NEVER had seasonal allergies before! I’ve also been faintly dizzy, and my heart has raced since I’ve gotten that last flu shot. I’m on anti-anxiety pills, and I was doing fine. Now they don’t seem to touch the occasional heart racing and my feeling that I can’t get my breath. I know when I’m having a panic attack ,and lately these just arent it. It’s something physiological, not mental. Ive been checked for heart problems, and it’s not that either.

I’m never getting another flu shot again. After I described my symptoms, my coworker said her mom was allergic to the flu shot and her mom’s doc acknowledged it! Apparently it might takes months for me to feel better. Yikes.

I have had a flu shot for many years. I was expected to because I worked with persons with special needs. I have not experienced any negative reaction to the shot until this year.

Approximately 12+ hours after the shot, I had tingling in my left foot. The shot was given in my right arm. I also felt dizzy off and on, also felt “off”. Two days post shot, I have been experiencing feelings of not being able to get a deep breath, headache and generalized anxiety. My adult daughter also received the shot and has tingling/numbness in her left foot and toes. She could barely lift her arm too 24 hours after the shot. I am not wanting to go through this again and will probably not get a flu shot next year.

This whole flu shot thing is an absolute nightmare. Every time someone becomes really ill from this thing they complain to the doctors. Every time the doctors say the same thing. The flu shot couldn’t have caused this reaction. Bullshit. There is something incredibly wrong with this shot. It doesn’t work. Polio shot has to be given once a lifetime. Yet CDC recommends flu shots every year. That is 80 shots if you live a full life span. Do anything except take bad vaccines.

I had a flu shot this morning, and shortly after started breathing as if I had asthma – hard time catching my breath, etc. Now I’m in bed with aches, and chills. This is only the second time getting a flu shot, last time I also became ill. No more for me! PS I haven’y actually had the flu in over 10 years, so I’m usually very healthy.

Nov. 5, 2016
Had high-dose flu shot last week and had a terrible reaction which I think was from the shot. For about a week, I had on and off heart palpitations, claustrophobic feelings leading to panic attacks, restless or no sleep at night, loss of appetite and sweats. During these times, my blood pressure and pulse were high. I have never had any flu shot reaction before so thinking it must be because of the senior high dose, or I got the wrong shot. I have had similar reaction to prescription drugs before.

Thank you for telling your story. I am currently at Urgent care due to same situation happened to me. Yesterday afternoon I received flu shot and about 4 hrs later it was getting more and more difficult to breathe. It has not improved today so I had no choice but head to Drs office. I have a lot of allergies but flu shots and other meds were not one of them.

Well, there are a few things to do besides checking and increasing the Vit D levels( if <50 ng/ml), resting properly, strengthening one’s immune system, and staying hydrated. Don’t cough in your hand but instead use your elbow bend. Keep hands clean & out of your eyes, nose & mouth. Stay home if you’re sick, away from those who are sick, and maybe wear a mask if needed. The flu shot is not the cure-all to end all.

My wife had the stronger senior flu shot about two weeks ago. Shortly after the shot she complained about dizziness upon changing positions and this problem continues until today. Has anyone else experienced this particular side effect. Thank you.

Last week I had the flu shot, I had not had one for 4 years after having reactions. Little did I know how disastrous this decision to have this shot was to become…with in 2 and a half hours of having the shot I developed tightness in the chest, sats dropped to 92, pulse 133bpm, eyes started to turn red and ooze green muck, aches across shoulders and down arms. This had mostly resolved by 12 that night apart from the pain across my shoulders. Troponin returned negative, so went home. Next day was fine, still very sore across shoulders and down arms, which I likened to hitting my funny bone but thought it was the flu shot reaction…the next day due back at work but pain still present in shoulders which panadol seemed to tone down…then it hit, intense back spasm …..here I am one week after post heart attack…and no acknowledgment that the flu shot may have contributed to this outcome….I believe by not acknowledging the facts, they are neglecting their duty of care to support people that are having adverse reactions and putting them at risk of serious side effects…….

Im lying in bed and i feel like I’m dying. These side effects are no joke. I have a mad fever, eyes sensitive to light (and this tablet screen), realy bad aches, sore throat….I’ve never felt this way. Never getting this flu shot again. Please. Its been 2 days and I really pray that I’m better by tomorrow. Man this is rough. I have a high tolerance for pain too.

Last year after I got my flu shot, I could barely walk. (I already had some arthritis and fibromyalgia.) Before I got the flu shot, I was still running some errands and going to the grocery store, even though I was in some pain. Ever since I got the flu shot, I have had no life! I can no longer run errands or go to the store. I can barely walk. I am so weak all the time I can barely function…all of this escalated after I got the flu shot, and has never gone away! I told my doctor and, of course, was told that it’s not possible. But I’ve seen on other websites that people’s arthritis started AFTER the flu shot or became much worse, to the point of needing surgery.

Last year I took a flu shot late in the year at Walgreens. Within 6 hours I was “feeling poor”. Next day was in the Dr office with difficult breathing (I am a treated Asthmatic) and all the signs of flu. 3 weeks to recover. Got one this year from my Pulmonologist. NO problems.

Don’t take them!! FLU shots that is!! I did back in the day when I had them @ work. Then the year the bad bunch came out, was in & out of bed for over a month. That’s why no more for me!!

I got my flu shot this past Thursday my Dr. Insisted. It is Sunday still feeling horrible today difficulty breathing , still have chills, headaches, no appetite and weak. I took Friday off from work and cannot afford another sick day. I will not get a flu shot again. She also said I needed a pneumonia shot. I will pass on that.

I read somewhere, and I cannot recall where, that the flu shot has proven to be not so effective in the elderly. I am 74, an RN (retired), and am unconvinced it is necessary. I did not take it last year, nor this year. I believe in hand washing, avoiding crowds, and keeping a healthy immune system. I am a big believer in probiotics and their effect on immune system. I took care of too many patients with Guillian Barre Syndrome.

I had a serious reaction to a flu shot, but the doctor insisted I couldn’t have. The following year, I had a severe reaction to the flu shot, including angioedema, breathing difficulty and was bordering on anaphylaxis. I am not allergic to eggs. Neither was my mother, who always had bad reactions to flu shots.

Her doctor insisted she get them anyway. The last shot she got caused even worse reactions, and a few days after she got the shot, she was found dead in her bed. We’ll never know if it was from the shot or not. I have never gotten a flu shot since I had severe reactions the second time, and never will get one again. I wish my mother had refused the shots. My son also had bad reactions to them, and refuses to get flu shots. They are not safe for everyone.

I just got the Flu Shot yesterday 10/1/2015 about 30 to 45 mins afterwards my throat started getting numb and I felt like I couldn’t breath. Maybe about one hour into my situation I took a benadryl and the symptoms started subsiding, here it is the second day and I have been having breathing issues all day. (I am an asthmatic) I hardly ever use my pump (maybe 2 times a year) and I have used it all day. I will never take the flu shot again.

My understanding of flu and other vaccines is that they are not required to prove either effectiveness or safety.

I guess I must ask: WHY NOT!!!

I got a pneumonia shot to boost my immune system. I ended up in the ER.. a few hours later. Heart palpitations and left arm side effects.

They thought I was having a heart attack. Later the ER doctor told me evidently it WAS a reaction to the shot. My doctor refused to accept the diagnosis of the ER doctor. Her office said it was probably stress as in mental. I have a very long list of meds I cannot take.

love your news letters

For those (like me) who don’t like to chance vaccination reactions, I use a homeopathic remedy, whenever a cold or flu-like symptoms start–and this is called Oscillococcinum (pronounced Oss-Sil-Oh- Cox-SEE-Numb), by a French company called Boiron.

I buy it either at a drugstore/pharmacy, or at a health food store. I have never ever had a flu shot (and I’m over 70), and have only had the flu twice (mild version–just had to go to bed for a few days, eat liquid meals, and sleep sleep sleep) in my life.

I don’t want to chance the following possible bad reactions to flu shots:

1) Guillain Barre syndrome (a serious, potentially fatal form of peripheral neuropathy)

2) PANDAS/Pediatric (but can affect adults too of any age) Auto-immune Neuro-psychiatric Disorder Associated with vaccinations, and/or infections of various kinds–strep, Lyme disease, etc.

3) Mercury Toxicity–some flu shots have the “neuro-toxin” (nerve poison) called Thimerisol in them, as a preservative.

Sincerely, Carol (VCD lady) in Colorado
former RN/nurse, and admirer of the People’s Pharmacy’
(have their book too).

Carol, we’re glad the Oscillococcinum seems to be working for you. There is not enough research evidence for us to recommend it to other readers: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23235586

Hey Big Pharma! I, for one, am sick and tired of you remaining silent about all these reactions to the flu shot you manufacture and your audacity to continue to berate those who do not want to get the flu shot. Can you blame them? It’s utterly reckless and irresponsible of you (and the U.S. government) to remain silent and offer no explanation whatsoever about all the adverse reactions, especially those that are potentially harmful. Too bad Big Pharma doesn’t list the quality control measures taken during manufacturing…. in third world countries no less… The silence is deafening…

I’ve had odd reactions on and off for a couple of years. I’ve had what I consider “within the realm of normal” reactions — feeling as if I had the flu: fever, runny nose, tired/drained, muscle aches, etc. But I’ve also had my heart pounding and pulse speeding up a day or so after I got a shot about 2 years ago. My heart tends to speed up with a fever but I did not have a fever after this particular shot. Ever since then, I’ve been extremely cautious (and anxious) about getting the flu shot. Last year I got the shot and had absolutely no reaction whatsoever. I make sure I get all the info about the shot: name, manufacturer, batch number, etc. and the mercury-free version when possible. Big Pharma certainly asks alot from the public; as if we’re just supposed to hold on like we’re in Vegas and take the gamble of adverse reactions….

Two years ago I had a bad reaction too. I was in bed for several days (before in previous years I didn’t have a problem). After that I didn’t have another flu shot. I really do not understand why this reaction. Have the vaccine changed its formula? At the time, I really thought they gave me another shot and not the flu shot.

My husband had the “heavy” dose flu shot-for seniors-at doctor’s request. 2 days later he woke up and couldn’t move his head or if he touched his hand to face it was like a strong pain. We went to the doctor and got a double strength anti-inflamatory shot and used heat-took about 4-5 hours to start feeling some better. Today is 1 week from shot and not complete normal movement. I read online the heavy shot is 4 x stronger. You may not get the flu—but maybe something worse! A friend that works in health care said because of eboli scare everything was really fortified!

Also, many people, myself included, are allergic to the preservative, thimerosal, in flue vaccines. For this reason, I have never had a flu shot. But my pharmacist says that there is now a thimerosal-free version, but you have to ask for it specifically.

The exact same thing happened to me in 1977. I went to the emergency room and they couldn’t find anything wrong. I haven’t had a flu shot since. I haven’t had the flu.

I have had but one flu shot in my life – in 1957. I may not be allergic to eggs, but perhaps am when it comes to a flu shot. Even at that young and still healthy age, I was deathly sick and in bed for about a week. My digestive system took longer to heal, as well as medicine from a doctor over a month later.
Fast forward. I very seldom get the common ailments like cold and flu; tho I do not enjoy good health otherwise. Nevertheless, in all the years since I have had the flu once and it put me to bed for several days. Not a very good risk benefit ratio. And I suspect the same is true for many other people, as noted above. However, big pharma will have its way – again!

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