Many doctors and medical experts recommend that individuals over six months of age receive the flu vaccine annually to reduce the risk of contracting the flu virus. Flu shots normally begin appearing at doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies beginning in September and extending through the winter months. While the vaccine can help prevent the spread of the flu, there are risks and disadvantages to receiving the vaccine.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Short Protection Period

The flu shot must be received each year to provide individuals with protection against the virus. Michael Evans, M.D., of the Canadian Family Physician, explains that the flu vaccine only provides protection against the flu virus for four to six months, or long enough to get through an average flu season 1. Additionally, the shot does not provide the recipient with immediate protection. The vaccine takes approximately two weeks to take effect, leaving the individual exposed in the meantime.

Individuals Unable to Receive the Vaccine

The flu vaccine isn’t for everyone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains that infants younger than six months of age are not approved to receive the vaccine. Anyone with an allergy to eggs also cannot receive the vaccine because it is developed and grown on eggs and could cause a serious reaction if injected into an allergic individual. Patients who are sick with any sort of illness that is accompanied with a fever cannot receive the vaccine until they have fully recovered.

Adverse Reactions and Side Effects

Adverse reactions and side effects may occur in some individuals who receive the flu shot. Adverse reactions may include symptoms as simple as an allergic reaction or, in the case of Desiree Jennings of Ashburn, Virginia, permanent neurological damage may be possible, as noted by These types of adverse reactions are extremely rare. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a reaction affecting the nervous system that can occur after receiving a vaccination, though it only occurs in 1 in 100,000 people.

Side effects common with the flu shot include localized soreness at the injection site, low grade fever and body aches, explains the CDC. The flu shot is made of an inactive or dead virus, therefore contracting the flu from the flu shot is not possible.