Injectable Flu Vaccine

Description

Injectable flu vaccine must be administered once every fall. Those aged 6 months and older can receive the injectable vaccine unless contraindicated. Children aged 2 to 17 may receive the injectable flu vaccine or intranasal flu vaccine.

The injectable vaccine is recommended for people who have a higher risk of suffering complications from the flu and those around them who can transmit the virus to them. The injectable vaccine is offered free of charge to this group of people through the Flu Vaccination Program. To learn more, see the List of People Eligible to Receive the Injectable Vaccine for Free.

The injectable flu vaccine is also recommended for anyone who wishes to reduce the risk of catching the flu. The flu vaccine does not protect against the common cold and respiratory infections caused by other viruses.

The quadrivalent injectable vaccine, which contains 4 different strains of the flu virus, is recommended for babies aged 6 to 23 months, as well as children aged 2 to 17.

For a child younger than 9 years, 2 doses of the vaccine, given 1 month apart, are required when it is a first vaccination against the flu.

For the 2017-18 season, the vaccine offered through the Québec Flu Vaccination Program contains the following strains:

  • A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)
  • A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)
  • B/Brisbane/60/2008
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013 (in the quadrivalent injectable vaccine only)

Symptoms

Some symptoms may be caused by the vaccine, such as redness at the injection site. Other problems may occur by chance and are not related to the vaccine, such as cold, gastro or headache.

The injectable flu vaccine is safe. Most reactions are harmless and do not last long.

Nature and Frequency of Possible Reactions to Vaccine

Frequency Possible Reactions to Vaccine

In most cases
(more than 50% of people)

  • Pain at injection site

Very often
(less than 50% of people)

  • Redness and swelling at injection site
  • Muscle pain, joint pain, headache, fatigue
  • Loss of appetite, drowsiness (difficulty staying awake), irritability

Often
(less than 10% of people)

  • Bruising or itching at
    injection site
  • Fever, chills and discomfort, particularly in people receiving the flu vaccine for the first time
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache
  • Oculo-respiratory syndrome, or ORS (red eyes, sore throat, coughing, difficulty breathing)

Sometimes
(less than 1% of people)

  • Swelling of the face (this reaction is also part of ORS)
  • Redness of the skin
  • Dizziness
  • Swollen glands

Rarely
(less than 1 person in 1,000)

  • Seizures (the body stiffens, and muscles contract in a jerky and involuntary manner)
  • Numbness, neuralgia (pain along the course of a nerve)

Extremely rare reactions

Extremely rare reactions may occur after a flu vaccine.

The Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is one such reaction. This syndrome causes progressive paralysis, meaning that one or more parts of the body go numb until you are no longer able to move. This paralysis eventually disappears, but it can sometimes leave permanent effects. The cause of GBS is unknown. In most cases, GBS occurs following infection of the intestines or lungs. It mostly affects young adults and people aged 60 years and older.

The risk of having Guillain-Barré syndrome after receiving a flu vaccine, if such risk exists, is extremely low. In fact, there is less of a chance of developing GBS after flu vaccination than after contracting an infection such as the flu.

Serious allergic reactions are also extremely rare.

What to Do after Vaccination

Tips to follow immediately following vaccination

Wait 15 minutes before leaving premises where vaccine is received. If an allergic reaction occurs, the symptoms will appear a few minutes after the vaccination.

If you feel side effects, immediately inform the person giving the vaccine. That person will be able to treat you immediately.

Tips to follow at home

If you experience redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, apply a cold, damp compress on it.

Use medication for fever or discomfort if needed.

When to seek medical help

See a doctor if one of the following applies to you:

  • You experience serious and unusual symptoms
  • Your symptoms get worse instead of improving
  • Your symptoms last over 48 hours

Last update: July 27, 2017 1:48 PM

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