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Flu vaccine side effects

After the flu vaccination, you may get a mild fever and slight muscle aches for a day or so.

Some people may have a sore arm after vaccination. For example, if you're aged 65 or over and having the adjuvanted flu vaccine.

Try these tips to ease the discomfort:

  • continue to move your arm regularly – do not let it get stiff and sore
  • take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – pregnant women should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends and prescribes it

Do not give aspirin to children under 16.

You cannot catch flu from the flu vaccine

The injected flu vaccine cannot cause flu because there are no active viruses in the vaccine.

If you have what you think is flu after vaccination, it may be that you have caught a flu-like virus that's not really flu, or you may have caught flu before your flu vaccination had taken effect.

Find out more about what the flu vaccine contains

Allergic reactions to the flu vaccine

It's rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to a vaccination. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.

The person who vaccinates you or your child will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

With prompt treatment, you or your child will make a good recovery.

Contact a pharmacist or GP if you experience severe side effects that do not improve over time.

Find out how to report a vaccine side effect

Page last reviewed: 16 July 2019
Next review due: 16 July 2022