Risk of Injury and Adverse Reactions to Influenza Vaccines
Vaccines are often given to children in order to protect them from harmful or even deadly diseases. However, some immunizations are given to adults who may be at risk of contracting illnesses. One of the most commonly used is the flu vaccine, which is given every year to protect people from contracting the influenza virus.
What Is Influenza?
Influenza, commonly known as the “flu,” is a highly-contagious disease that is spread through close contact with an infected person. The virus is most commonly contracted in the winter months, with peak infection rates beginning in October and lasting through May. Patients of all ages may contract the flu, and the virus can be deadly for infants and young children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems.
The symptoms of flu often occur suddenly and can last for up to a week, and may include:
- Coughing or wheezing
- Nasal congestion or a runny nose
- Sore throat
- Fever or chills
- Muscle aches
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Diarrhea or vomiting
If it is not treated quickly, the flu can develop into pneumonia or lead to infections, life-threatening diarrhea, and seizures in small children. Every year, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized due to flu symptoms, many of whom die as a result.
How Do Influenza Vaccines Prevent the Flu?
There are many different strains of the flu virus, and these viruses often change from year to year. Each year, a new flu vaccine is developed that protects against three or four different strains of the virus that have been identified as likely to infect the population. When the flu vaccine is introduced into the body, it causes antibodies to develop, allowing the body’s immune system to identify and target the flu viruses that are in the vaccine. Even if an immunized person comes into contact with a strain of the flu other than that in the vaccine, the vaccination can provide some protection against the virus.
The flu vaccine can:
- Stop a person from contracting the flu
- Lessen the symptoms of the flu if the virus is contracted
- Prevent a person from spreading the flu to others
The flu vaccine cannot:
- Protect against the flu without yearly vaccination
- Prevent illnesses that cause “flu-like” symptoms but are not caused by the flu virus
There are two ways influenza vaccines can be delivered. The most common form of immunization is injection, using the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), or trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV). The other form is the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), which is an inhalant that is sprayed into the nose. LAIV is made from a weakened form of flu virus. Contrary to what some people may believe, flu vaccines cannot actually cause the flu. However, it does take about two weeks for antibodies to develop after vaccination, so a vaccinated person can contract the flu during this period.
Injuries Reported After Influenza Vaccination
Adults are encouraged to get one dose of the flu vaccine (the flu shot) once every flu season, while children may need two doses during one flu season to prevent infection. The vaccine is recommended for healthy children and adults between the ages of 2 through 49 years old, and it may be given in combination with other vaccines. Women who are pregnant should not receive the flu shot, as it may cause complications.
While most people do not suffer any lasting problems after immunization, some patients have endured injuries in the hours and days after receiving the flu shot. The most commonly reported complications of flu shots include:
- Shoulder pain. Some people experience severe pain in the shoulder or arm weakness at the injection site for several days.
- Viral symptoms. Patients may report flu-like symptoms following injection, such as scratchy throat, coughing, itchy eyes, fever, or body aches.
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Inactivated flu vaccine has been linked to increased risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare nerve disorder that can have fatal effects.
- Combination reactions. Children who receive a flu shot in addition to other vaccines may be at risk of combination injuries, such as high fevers or seizures.
- Allergic reactions. About one in every million doses of the flu shot will result in allergic reaction, such as facial swelling, difficulty breathing, and rashes.
The Shannon Law Group represents vaccine injury victims across the U.S., allowing patients nationwide to get compensation for their suffering. If you have experienced serious and long-lasting side effects as a result of the flu vaccine, you may be eligible for payment through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) or by filing a vaccine injury lawsuit. Simply fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys to see if you qualify for payment for your medical bills, lost income, and other losses.