What is Influenza?
Influenza, better known as the flu, is a highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system. The virus is passed from person to person though respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs. People find themselves at risk for contracting the flu when inhaling infected droplets or touching their eyes, mouth or nose after touching something that has been infected.
Symptoms of the flu include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children). If you find yourself sick with flu-like symptoms, it is recommended that you remain at home and avoid contact with people except medical personnel. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has dissipated (without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
Who should receive the vaccine and when?
The CDC recommends that all people above the age of 6 months be vaccinated with the flu vaccine every year. Special emphasis should be given to certain “at risk” populations, including children aged 6-59 months, adults above the age of 50, and women who are or will be pregnant during flu season, among others.
Individuals should not get a vaccine if they are younger than 6 months old or have experienced severe, life-threatening allergies to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients. Talk to your doctor before getting a flu shot if you are feeling ill, have previously been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), or have an allergy to egg or other vaccine ingredients.
Can I still get the flu if I have received the flu vaccine?
Unfortunately, the flu shot does not guarantee complete protection against the influenza virus. According to the CDC, the vaccine typically protects only 50%-60% of those immunized.
Although the influenza vaccination does not guarantee protection against the virus, medical professionals maintain it is still the best way to protect yourself against the flu. For those seeking more information about the effectiveness of the vaccine, the CDC posts studies of influenza vaccine effectiveness to their website.
Are there any side effects associated with the vaccine?
While you cannot contract the flu from the flu shot, vaccines, like any medication, come with the risk of side effects. Common side effects include: (1) soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; (2) low grade fever; (3) muscle aches; or (4) toughness/itching at the injection site. These reactions typically present soon after the flu shot and last one to two days.
If you experience a life-threatening allergic reaction, such as breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, increased heart rate, or dizziness, seek medical attention immediately. In some cases, symptoms of reaction persist and can develop into long-term illnesses.
What injuries are associated with the vaccine?
In some cases, symptoms persist and develop into something more serious. Injuries associated with the influenza vaccine include:
- Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Brachial Neuritis
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA)
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Transverse Myelitis (TM)
If the resulting injury lasts more than 6 months, results in surgical intervention during inpatient hospitalization, or results in death, you may be eligible to petition for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Vaccines are an important part of public health, working to save lives by preventing disease. Most of the time, vaccines are administered without any serious problems. Like with any medication, however, there is a risk of side effects, ranging from mild to serious.
For this reason, the US government created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), a “no-fault” alternative to the traditional legal system. Petitions can be filed by any individual, at any age, after developing an injury believed to be a result of a covered vaccine, if jurisdictional requirements are met.
Conway Homer, P.C. is the most experienced vaccine injury law firm in the United States. We represent clients from all 50 states and have advocated for landmark cases that have shaped the Vaccine Program and made it friendlier and more generous to individuals who suffer from vaccine injuries. To get in touch with our dedicated team, click here for a free consultation.