Pain After A Shot: Normal Site Reactions To Vaccines
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , in most cases vaccine side effects are minor and go away within a few days. Side effects vary according to vaccine type, such as flu, shingles, or pneumonia. Generally mild side effects of vaccines may include:
- Pain, redness, tenderness, or swelling at injection site
How To Treat A Sore Arm After Vaccination
Although a sore arm after COVID shots is temporary, there are a few things you can do at home to help treat a sore arm after your vaccine:
- Use a cold compress on the injection site
- Move your arm around frequently throughout the day
- Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil and Tylenol if approved by your provider
- Use antihistamines such as Benadryl if you experience itchiness
Unless you have a health condition that prevents you from taking certain OTC pain relievers, such as a bleeding condition or liver or kidney problems, you may find relief from arm soreness as well as certain other vaccine side effects such as headache or fatigue.
However, you want to avoid taking OTC pain medications before your vaccine in anticipation of side effects. While it may decrease your arm soreness, the local inflammation is beneficial to the development of a vigorous immune response and anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce this beneficial response, Dr. Anderson explains.
How To Knock Out Flu Shot Pain
While soreness can be unpleasant, its nothing compared to the whole-body pain caused by the flu.
Here are four tips to relieve flu shot pain:
1. Distract Yourself
Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind and relax your body and look away to avoid tensing your muscles . It may help to also chew some gum or suck on a breath mint.
2. Use Pain Reliever
If you are typically pretty sore after your shot, ask your doctor if its safe for you to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen before and/or after the shot.
3. Keep Moving
Growing up, has someone ever told you to just walk it off when you get hurt? While you shouldnt just walk off any injury, there is some truth to this somewhat harsh rationale when it comes to the pain from your flu shot.
Dont baby your arm. Its not an injury. Moving your arm around after the shot will help spread the vaccination away from the injection site and increase blood flow. You may want to consider doing some light exercise after as well.
4. Cool It
Use a cool compress on the injection site to help reduce any swelling and pain. After a few days, you can try a warm compress to relax your muscle and increase blood flow.
Getting your annual flu shot can protect you, your loved ones and those around you from the flu and complications from it. A momentary discomfort is worth the thousands of lives who can be saved. Its one of the easiest ways to contribute to community health.
Don’t Miss: This Years Flu Shot For Over 65
I Just Got The Flu Shot Why Does My Arm Hurt
Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus travels from person to person through infectious droplets expelled from the nose or mouth, but chances of contracting the virus decrease between 40-60% with the administration of a flu shot. Some individuals suffer pain following vaccination, but there are ways to lower the likelihood of experiencing flu shot pain.
Many people experience pain after receiving the vaccination. Flu shot pain is the sensory response to the immune systems process of producing antibodies and developing immunity, which is what prevents a vaccinated individual from contracting the disease.
With general fear of muscle pain and as much as 10% of the US population suffering from a fear of needles, many people shy away vaccination each year. Pain, however, is minimal and should not last more than a few days. Although it might seem unavoidable, there are some ways to reduce the risk of shoulder pain and muscle soreness following vaccination.
Allergic Reactions To The Flu Vaccine
It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Anyone can report a suspected side effect of a vaccine through the Yellow Card Scheme.
Also Check: Flu Symptoms For 2 Weeks
Why Does My Arm Hurt After A Flu Shot
- Lung Health and Diseases
Getting a shot at the doctor’s office might not be the most enjoyable experiencewith the needle and the doctor and that pesky arm pain that can come after for somebut vaccination is necessary to help your body defend itself against dangerous diseases, including seasonal influenza . There’s a reason CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot each year: Anyone can get the flu and it can hit hard. The 2017-2018 flu season particularly demonstrated the impact: Around 80,000 Americans lost their lives due to influenza and 900,000 people were hospitalized.
The flu shot is safe, and you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Most people have little or no reaction to the flu shot and the most common side effect is some discomfort in your arm hours after receiving the vaccination, including soreness, redness and/or swelling. A sore arm is much better than catching the actual influenza viruswhich can knock you out for days or weeks with high fever, cough and muscle achesbut why do some people experience this particular side effect of the flu shot?
What Can You Do To Limit Your Discomfort
Before the shot:
- Take three to five deep breaths. This will help relax your muscles, including your deltoid.
- Distract yourself. Eat some sugary candy or chew gum. This will release feel-good chemicals called endorphins that can reduce your perception of pain.
- Limit your psychological discomfort. Look away if youre afraid of needles. Tell the health care provider that you dont want to know when he or she is about to deliver the shot.
- Choose wisely: Ask to get the shot in your non-dominant arm. That way, you wont aggravate the muscle as you do day-to-day activities.
- Use a pain reliever: Ice your arm for a few minutes and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
After the shot:
- Apply pressure. Compression can be helpful for reducing inflammation.
- Use cold and warm compresses. Ice the area to reduce any swelling. After a few days, try a warm compress to relax your deltoid muscle and improve your blood flow.
- Use a pain reliever. Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen if pain develops in the days after you get the shot.
- Keep moving. Use your arm, dont baby it. You want to get blood flowing to the area.
Getting your annual flu shot can protect you, your loved ones, and those around you from the flu and its complications. You may experience some soreness in the days after getting vaccinated, but the tips weve provided here should help you recover. If you develop more serious complicationssuch as a high fever, wheezing, hives, or weaknesscall your doctor or seek medical attention.
Recommended Reading: Mid Dakota Clinic Flu Shots
Ways To Reduce The Pain Of Your Flu Shot
First, recognise that there might be some soreness, and plan for it. Get the shot in your left shoulder if youre right handed, for example. If youre often sore after a flu shot, consider not scheduling the shot right before arm day in the gym.
Next, ask your provider if its ok to take a pain reliever like ibuprofen before or after the shot. Sometimes that helps.
Relax your muscle before the needle goes in. Injections tend to hurt more if a muscle is tensed.
Finally, move your arm around after the shot. This may help because it moves the injected liquid around your arm a bit, so that when that inflammatory reaction occurs, its not as concentrated in one place. Also, its important to recognise that its just soreness, not a serious injury, and you can move around and use your shoulder. Dont baby it. Whether a few arm circles after the shot could actually reduce late-night pain, we arent sure, but in general the muscle soreness tends to feel better with movement.
How Effective Is The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine gives the best protection against flu.
Flu vaccines help protect against the main types of flu viruses, although there’s still a chance you might get flu.
If you do get flu after vaccination, it’s likely to be milder and not last as long.
Having the flu vaccine will also stop you spreading flu to other people who may be more at risk of serious problems from flu.
It can take 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to work.
Read Also: Does Uhc Cover Flu Shots
Why Do Some People Not Feel Well After Getting A Flu Shot
Flu vaccine side effects are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days. Some side effects that may occur from a flu shot include soreness, redness, and/or swelling where the shot was given, headache , fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue. The flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting.
Who Can Have The Flu Vaccine
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:
- are 50 and over
- have certain health conditions
- are pregnant
- are in long-stay residential care
- receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
- live with someone who is more likely to get infections
- frontline health or social care workers
Recommended Reading: Children’s Flu Medicine Otc
How Effective Is The Seasonal Flu Shot
Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary. The protection provided by a flu vaccine varies from season to season and depends in part on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine and the similarity or match between the viruses in the vaccine and those in circulation. During years when the flu vaccine match is good, it is possible to measure substantial benefits from flu vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness and complications. However, the benefits of flu vaccination will still vary, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated , what influenza viruses are circulating that season and, potentially, which type of flu vaccine was used. For more information, see Vaccine Effectiveness How well does the Flu Vaccine Work. For information specific to this season, visit About the Current Flu Season.
*References for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits. Also, see the A Strong Defense Against Flu: Get Vaccinatedpdf icon! fact sheet.
What Are The Symptoms
The main signs of SIRVA are serious shoulder pain and less range of motion, meaning trouble with moving your shoulder normally. The symptoms usually show up within 48 hours after you get a vaccine shot in your upper arm. Research also suggests that over-the-counter pain meds donât help the symptoms get better.
Read Also: Can You Get A Flu Shot After Donating Blood
What Should I Do If I Have Had A Serious Reaction To Seasonal Flu Vaccine
Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when you got the flu shot.
Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systemexternal icon form, or call VAERS at 1-800-822-7967. Reports are welcome from all concerned individuals: patients, parents, health care providers, pharmacists and vaccine manufacturers.
How Much It Hurts May Depend On How The Shot Was Administered
Slow injections may cause more pain, according to research published in the journal Vaccine. Researchers compared pain measurements in slow versus fast injections among infants and found that a faster shot reduced injection-induced pain when it came to certain vaccines, including the flu shot. A slower injection time means more time for the needle to be in contact with the skin, which could lead to the needle moving around more or even potentially cause muscle tissue damage, both of which make you feel sorer.
While you cant exactly predict the style of the person giving you the shot, try stroking or applying gentle pressure to the skin near the injection site during the shot, said Michael Grosso, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. Just give the nurse or pharmacist a heads up if you want to do this step before they get started. They may opt to do it for you so that you dont accidentally get pricked.
You May Like: Flu Shot For Pregnant Women
Redness Pain Or Swelling At The Injection Site
This is another good sign that your immune system is raring to go and responding to the vaccine properly, Dr. Kemmerly says. Plus, any time something breaks the skin barrier , it may get red and swollen as your body reacts to it as a foreign object. This side effects is common and should only last a few days.
What Arm Should I Get My Flu Shot In
Dr. Mora recommends getting the flu shot in the arm you use the least. “That way if you are writing or doing day-to-day activities, you’re not aggravating the muscle even more,” she says.Some other ways to reduce pain include trying not to tense your arm while you’re being vaccinated and moving your arm after vaccination to increase blood flow and help disperse the vaccine throughout the area.
You May Like: Sanofi High Dose Flu Vaccine
What About People Who Get A Seasonal Flu Vaccine And Still Get Sick With Flu Symptoms
There are several reasons why someone might get flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against flu.
Sirva: Long Lasting Shoulder Pain After A Flu Shot
Some doctors already recognize the problem of long lasting shoulder pain. They even have a name for pain in the shoulder or upper arm following a vaccination. They call it SIRVA: shoulder injury related to vaccine administration .
The cause is apparently missing the deltoid muscle where the intramuscular injection should be given. Experts urge vaccinators to use a landmark technique rather than relying on eyeball measurement. The upper edge of the deltoid is two to three finger widths below the acromion at the very top of the arm.
The armpit marks the lower border for a good injection. The needle should be held at a 90 degree angle to the arm, with the thumb and forefinger in a V keeping the deltoid muscle visible during the injection.
Was that confusing? Were not surprised. It can be challenging to imagine where the shot should be administered.
Clear directions and an informative graphic can be found in the article found in Canadian Family Physician. We urge every vaccinator to read it carefully. We also think that patients should become familiar with the proper technique and make sure the person who is giving the shot knows how to do it correctly. Here is a link to the pdf format of that article:
It might be a good idea to print out the graphic and show it to the shot administrator. Make sure they know precisely where the sweet spot is before you let them stick you!
Recommended Reading: Which Person Is Least Likely To Have Flu Related Complications
When Should I Seek Help For Injection
Any injection site that continues to be problematic after 48 hours should be seen by your doctor immediately. Other symptoms that may warrant medical care:
- High fever following a vaccination
- Signs of an allergic reaction, which can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness.
Concerned about pain, swelling, or soreness after your vaccine? Find a UPMC Urgent Care location near you.
Youre Having An Immunologic Response
Thats Richard Zimmermans five-word answer. Hes a professor of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and director of PittVax, a CDC-funded program that evaluates the effectiveness of flu vaccines. He explains that its not the act of injecting the vaccine that makes you sore the next dayits how your body responds to that injection.
In fact, you should be glad that your arm hurts. That means the vaccine is working.
The flu vaccine works by presenting antigens to your immune system. Antigens are proteins that allow your white blood cells to recognize foreign objects inside your body, like viruses. You build up a natural immunity to viruses once infected, because your body learns to recognize them as dangerousso if they return with a vengence, your immune system is better prepared to fight back. Vaccines take advantage of this by providing very small amounts of antigens so that your white blood cells learn what the flu virus looks like.
That inflammation is what causes you pain. Zimmerman says that only about one in five people have this local reaction, though that number varies by vaccine. Its not that those other four dont become immunethey just dont experience inflammation to the point of pain.
You May Like: What Do Doctors Give For The Flu