What are the side effects of the flu jab?

Side effects of the flu jab include:

  • Fever/shivering
  • Headache
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Redness, soreness, and swelling where you were injected. Sometimes this spot is itchy
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Feeling generally unwell or under the weather (malaise)

The side effects of the flu jab are mild – while you may develop flu-like symptoms in response to the flu jab, these symptoms would usually be milder than an actual flu infection. These symptoms should normally clear up without any treatment in 2-3 days.

Serious allergic reactions are rare – it is possible to have an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the flu vaccine. The main allergen in flu jabs is egg, though the flu jab used by Superdrug Health Clinics is safe for those with egg allergies unless their allergy is particularly severe. Our nurses will go through a full consultation before giving you the flu jab to make sure that the vaccine is safe for you.

The key signs of an allergic reaction to the flu jab are sudden and include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling around the eyes, lips, tongue, and or/throat
  • Wheezing
  • Hives (itchy red bumps)
  • Becoming pale and clammy
  • Feeling weak, confused or anxious
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Blacking out/losing consciousness
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or stomach pain

Our nurses and pharmacists are fully trained and equipped to deal with an allergic reaction – you may be asked to stay near the Health Clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccination just in case you do experience any side effects, such as an allergic reaction, that do require medical attention. Every Superdrug Health Clinic and Pharmacy has an anaphylaxis kit on site and our nurses and pharmacists are trained to immediately deal with any allergic reactions.

How do I manage the side effects of the flu jab?

A sore arm is the most common side effect of the flu jab – if you have a sore arm after getting your flu jab, try to keep moving your arm. This will increase circulation to the area, which will stop your muscles from becoming stiff and can help you recover faster. If your arm is particularly sore then you can also take over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, to reduce the pain. If the pain lasts for more than 2 days, you should consult with your GP.

Some people get a fever shortly after getting their flu jab – developing a fever after getting your flu jab is a physical response to the vaccine. To help your body recover from a fever, keep yourself cool, drink enough fluids, and try to get some rest. You should get in contact with your GP if your fever lasts for more than 3 days.

Seek advice if you think you are having side effects – if you are concerned about any side effects you may be experiencing, you can get in contact with NHS 111 who will be able to offer advice and support. If you believe you are having an allergic reaction, call 999 immediately for emergency medical attention.

Is it normal to get sick after getting the flu jab?

The flu jab is safe – the flu jab has not been linked to any serious side effects, apart from an allergic reaction in some rare cases. Millions of people across the UK get the flu vaccine every year without suffering serious ill effects.

The flu jab cannot give you the flu – the flu jab is an inactivated vaccine, which means it does not contain any of the live flu virus. This means that it is impossible to catch the flu from the flu jab. However, you can get mild flu-like symptoms as a side effect of the flu jab that will pass after a few days.

The flu vaccine takes around two weeks to protect you – as with all vaccines, it takes a little while for your body to create the antibodies required to effectively fight off the flu after getting the flu jab. Because of this, you can still be infected by the flu shortly after getting the flu jab, or develop symptoms from an existing infection. The vaccine will be effective 10-14 days after injection.

What happens if I get the flu jab while I’m ill?

The flu jab cannot cure the flu – the flu jab is a preventative measure, which means it can help to stop future infections but will not be able to protect you from existing infections. If you have been infected by the flu and then get the jab, you may still get sick.

Don’t get jabbed if you have a fever – if you are feeling ill with a fever on the day of your injection, we recommend that you wait and recover before coming in to get jabbed. This is because your immune system may be less effective at creating new antibodies to defend itself against the flu if it is busy fighting off another infection.

Minor illnesses won’t interfere with the vaccine – if you’re feeling a little bit sick, such as having a cold, then it’s still fine to have the flu jab. Having mild symptoms such as a cough, headache, or a sore throat will not have any effect on your immune system’s ability to create antibodies against flu infections.