How Long Does The Flu Shot Protect You From The Flu
A flu shot should help to protect you for the duration of the current flu season. However, youll need to get another flu shot next fall.
You may be wondering why you need to get a flu shot every year. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is related to the virus itself while another has to do with your level of immunity.
Influenza viruses are continually evolving throughout the year. Because of this, last years vaccine may not be a good match for the viruses that are prevalent this flu season.
The flu vaccine protects against the strains of influenza that research predicts will be the most prevalent in the upcoming flu season.
Your vaccine will typically include four strains , but may sometimes include three .
Additionally, a 2019 research review showed that the immunity provided by the flu shot decreases quickly over time.
This is why you likely wont have enough immunity from this years shot to protect you into the next flu season.
Seek Help If Its Extreme
This is all assuming you have a normal amount of pain, which is anything up to a few days worth of the same feeling of soreness you might get from a hard workout.
If it feels like something beyond that, get back in touch with your provider. Serious complications from a flu shot are rare, but possible. For example, if the needle misses your muscle and hits one of the fluid-filled sacs around your shoulder joint, you could experience pain, weakness and possible nerve damage in your shoulder.
If the pain is so bad you cant sleep, Id check in with your doctor, or if you dont have a primary care physician just call the clinic where you got the shot. But a little bit of soreness is normal, and you can use the tips above to reduce your chances of feeling it next time.
Shoulder Injury Related To Vaccine Administration
Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration is “shoulder pain and limited range of motion occurring after the administration of a vaccine intended for intramuscular administration in the upper arm . . . thought to occur as a result of unintended injection of vaccine antigen or trauma from the needle into and around the underlying bursa of the shoulder”.
SIRVA has been described as under-reported and preventable, and “caused by incorrect technique or landmarking for intramuscular deltoid injections”. Because the injury is a result of the injection technique rather than the substance injected, SIRVA can occur irrespective of the vaccine being administered. Although the injury is typically associated with vaccination, it can also occur as the result of any other kind of injection into the shoulder area. However, examination of injury reports suggests that this type of injury is of increased severity when administration of a vaccine is involved, which “may be due either to the antigenic or nonantigenic components of the vaccine”. In order to avoid this type of injury, injection administrators are advised to avoid injecting the patient too high, too low, or too far to the side, and to avoid using needles that fail to penetrate deeply into the muscle, or that penetrate too deeply and contact the bone.
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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?
Ial Rotator Cuff Tears
As the rotator cuff continues to age or degenerate, a portion of the rotator cuff might separate from the bone it is attached to. This is usually part of the natural progression of tendinosis.
If enough rotator cuff starts to separate, we have a small cleft or defect in the rotator cuff attachment. We call that a partial tear. Partial tears are not large enough to cause weakness of the shoulder. However, if you have a painful partial tear, you can have pain on top or the side of the shoulder. In addition, you may find it very painful when trying to lift the arm overhead.
Most people with partial tears of the rotator cuff are going to respond to physical therapy. Some partial tears hurt, while others do not. Determining if your partial tear is painful is usually possible with a physical exam. Suppose physical therapy and other non-surgical treatments do not improve your pain. In that case, surgery to place a unique biological patch is highly likely to alleviate your night pain and pain caused by lifting your arm. See this post for more information about the patch and how it works.
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How Long Will The Pain Last
A. In the last few years we have heard from hundreds of people who have reported severe shoulder pain after a flu shot. Some of them complain that the disability lasts for weeks or even months.
The standard explanation is that the pain and weakness are due to improper administration of the vaccine. This can damage the bursa, tendons or ligaments in the shoulder. There is even a name for this condition: SIRVA .
Whether the flu shot itself is contributing to this problem is unknown. We have not seen a lot of concern about should pain and flu shots either the CDC or the FDA. Anything that might discourage people from getting a flu shot seems to be shunned. We would like to know if this is as serious as our visitors seem to suggest in their messages. Here is just a sampling from other people in pain:
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.
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What Exactly Is Sirva
Ken Donohue, MD, a Yale Medicine orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist, explains to Health that SIRVA is an extremely rare condition in which pain and loss of function in the shoulder occurs following a vaccinationusually within 48 hours of administration of an injection in people who had no shoulder issues prior to injection. It can result in shoulder pain, weakness, stiffness or nerve inflammation . In very rare cases, it can result in nerve injury.
Just how uncommon is it? I have seen very few cases of this in my patients as an orthopedic shoulder specialist, Dr. Donohue maintains. And because it is so rare, there is little information available about it.
According to a 2012 case report published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, the concept that adverse reactions, specifically those involving the shoulder, are very rare. At the time of the report, researchers noted that only a single article on the concept existed. Seven years later, research is still incredibly limited.
While any sort of vaccination can lead to SIRVA, researchers found the majority were the result of the influenza vaccine. According to the report, nearly all who have reported such an injury, developed it within 24 hours.
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Is The Nasal Spray As Effective As The Flu Shot
In the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against getting the nasal spray vaccine.
The reason for this was because studies in children found that it was less effective than the flu shot for protecting against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza strains.
However, there have been recent advances in the production of the nasal spray vaccine.
Since the 2018 to 2019 flu season, the
- people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or cancer
- those with weakened immune systems
- individuals living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
Getting your flu shot is also particularly important in light of COVID-19. Both the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms and will circulate within communities this winter.
While the flu vaccine wont protect you from COVID-19, it can help prevent you from getting the flu.
In addition to keeping you out of the doctors office, this can also conserve medical resources for those that have COVID-19 or other health conditions.
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Reporting Vaccine Adverse Reactions:
Did you know that the CDC encourages patients to report flu shot problems? Here is what this public health agency states:
What should I do if I think I am having a severe reaction to a flu vaccine?
If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that cant wait, call 9-1-1 and get to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System .
Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
First Why Does The Flu Vaccine Cause A Sore Arm
There are actually a few different things that can lead to you having a little arm soreness after your flu shot, infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health. For starters, the flu shot is an intramuscular vaccine, which means that it’s injected directly into a muscle in your arm.
“You just had puncture in your skin and muscle,” Dr. Adalja says. “That’s going to hurt and there will be some inflammation that occurs post-trauma to that muscle and skin.”
At the same time, there’s a localized immune response happening in your arm where the vaccine was injected, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Health. Meaning, your immune system jumps into action to react to the vaccine where it was injectedin your arm. “Your immune system is really starting to take advantage of that vaccine and working on it,” Dr. Schaffner says.
Add those two factors together and you can end up with a sore arm.
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What The Cdc Does Not Tell You About Flu Shots:
Rarely, if ever, are people told how the influenza vaccine should be administered. The assumption is that whoever gives you the shot has been well trained. That may not always be true.
Years ago, most flu shots were administered by nurses or even doctors. Now, many people get their vaccinations at the pharmacy.
Starting early in the fall, the signs come up promoting influenza vaccines, sometimes even for free. If you take advantage of such an offer, make sure the person who gives you the shot knows how to do it correctly. Read on to find out why thats important!
Are There Any Other Options For The Flu Vaccine Besides Getting A Shot
In addition to the flu shot, a nasal spray vaccine is also available. You may see this vaccine referred to as FluMist or the live attenuated influenza vaccine .
This vaccine is sprayed into your nose. Unlike the flu shot, it contains active influenza viruses. However, these vaccine viruses have been weakened so they wont cause an infection.
Like the flu shot, the nasal spray has some potential side effects. These can be different in adults and children and can include:
The nasal spray vaccine is approved for individuals ages 2 to 49. Its not recommended for certain groups, such as pregnant people and those with a weakened immune system.
If youre interested in receiving the nasal spray vaccine, talk with your doctor about whether its a safe option for you.
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More Stories Of Shoulder Pain From Flu Shots:
We are not totally convinced that every story of long lasting shoulder pain is due to bad technique. The newer, more potent vaccines may also have something to do with it. Here are a few more reader stories:
This comes from Sally:
My shoulder hurt right after the shot was given. The shot itself hurt to the point I was about to yell out a big ole OWW Thats Enough!
The pain has moved from the front of my shoulder to covering the whole top of it, to the tip of my deltoid! The pain moves to a different place every day! Its so creepy. I cant rake the yard or sweep a floor unless I want to be in 100% complete agony for two days afterward.
If I get on the treadmill at the gym or do any exercise at all, it sets it off so bad that I feel like I am giving birth to an alien species through my arm! I have had an X-ray, MRI and I am now on my way to physical therapy. Everyone is stumped.
I just want to be able to drive myself around, pull up the blankets on my bed with my left arm without searing pain like I just ripped my arm open. I want the mysterious strange worm-like jolts to stop. I swear some days it feels like there is something crawling or wiggling around in there. Getting the flu for two weeks is far better than the six months of pure hell I am going through!
Here is Sharons story:
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!
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The Peoples Pharmacy: Shoulder Pain After Flu Shot
Last year, we learned a new acronym from our readers. One wrote: It has been seven weeks since I had my annual flu shot, and my arm is still sore at the injection site.
I do not think I have a Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration from having the vaccine injected into the wrong area. Nonetheless, the shoulder feels as if I received the shot two days ago.
There appears to be anecdotal information that the new quad vaccine has left many recipients with sore arms for an extended period. Have you read any reports that this sore-arm issue is widespread this year?
Many other people indeed reported trouble with sore arms after vaccination, but that was the first we had heard of SIRVA. This shoulder pain, presumably due to injury to the tendons, ligaments or bursa of the shoulder, may limit range of motion significantly. And, as tendon- or ligament-related pain often does, it can last a very long time.
One reader wrote: It has been almost one year since I had a flu shot at my local drugstore. I am unable to raise my left arm, and any movement causes severe pain.
I wake up at night when I move in bed and am not guarding my arm. The pain is excruciating. I first thought that it was tendinitis, but then realized that this had been going on since right after I got the flu shot last year.
I felt pain driving home, and by early evening, I was taking a pain reliever. The pain was so severe, I could not sleep on my left side .