Who is at Highest Risk for Complications from Influenza Vaccine?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has acknowledged that there is individual susceptibility to vaccine reactions for genetic, biological and environmental reasons but that vaccine providers cannot accurately predict prior to a vaccine’s administration who will suffer complications, injury or death from vaccination. 1 However, a person who has previously had a serious reaction to a vaccination or is acutely or chronically ill should become informed about all potential risks associated with vaccination and discuss any concerns with a trusted health care professional before receiving influenza vaccine or any other vaccine.
Currently a severe allergy to a vaccine component or history of a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous flu shot are the only CDC approved official contraindications (medical reasons for not getting vaccinated) to receiving influenza vaccine. A history of GBS within 6 weeks of a previous flu vaccine, a severe egg allergy (i.e. respiratory distress, recurrent vomiting, angioedema, lightheadedness, treatment with epinephrine) or “moderate or severe acute illness with or without a fever,” are now only considered precautions to vaccination. According to the CDC, vaccination should be deferred in the presence of a precaution, but persons may receive the vaccine if the benefit of vaccination is believed to outweigh the risk.2
IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Influenza and the Influenza vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
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1 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality: Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events (p. 57-102), Increased Susceptibility (p. 82). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012.
2 CDC Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP: Contraindications and Precautions. Aug. 20, 2019