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What are the side effects of this year's flu shot?

There are no serious complications by combining both the covid-19 and flu vaccines but the usual minor side effects exist as they always have.

A nurse prepares a syringe to give a third dose of the covid-19 vaccine.
Ronen ZvulunReuters

Millions of Americans every year get the flu jab. The CDC says it can reduce chances of catching the infection by 60 percent, particularly helpful for older citizens who are most at risk from serious complications.

Nearly all side effects are minor and ones that are potentially more serious are incredibly rare.

What are the side effects?

Like any medical product, vaccines can cause side effects. Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.

 Common side effects from the flu shot include:

  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches

The flu shot, like other injections, can occasionally cause fainting. A mercury-based preservative called thimerosal is used in vials of the flu vaccine. It’s used to prevent bacteria and other germs from growing. You can ask for a vaccine that doesn’t contain it. There is a CDC tableTrusted Source that lists all the currently available flu vaccines and whether they contain thimerosal.

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Is it worth getting?

Despite it being recommended for everyone over six months and older, there are a select group of people who are at greater risk of complications from catching the flu. This includes:

  • pregnant women,
  • people ages 65 and older,
  • people with chronic health conditions.

The vaccine is not recommended to people who have had allergic reactions to the jab in the past or, strangely enough, people who are allergic to eggs. Allergic reactions usually happen within the first few hours after a dose of the vaccine. Symptoms include: hives, swelling, trouble breathing, fast heart rate and dizziness.

Are there any risks combining it with the covid-19 vaccine?

A British study by the University of Bristol published on Thursday found that side effects were not serious in tests with three flu vaccines and either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca shot.

Dr Anthony Fauci is back on the airwaves to convince the public to get both the flu and covid-19 jabs. “What you should do is get it as soon as you can and in the most expeditious manner,” Fauci told CNN's The Situation Room. “If that means going in and getting the flu shot in one arm the covid shot in the other, that's perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong with that at all."

Flu season is coming soon and, with much of the focus upon covid-19, public protection against the flu has been largely ignored.