How Safe is the Swine Flu Vaccination?

The swine flu vaccination today is considered to be safe in general and should not be confused with the vaccination that had problems in 1976. Now, the vaccine goes through thorough testing before being provided to the public, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States continuously monitors the safety of it. Pregnant women who are concerned with the safety of the swine flu vaccination have the option to request a thimerosol-free one. There are certain people for whom the vaccine might not be safe, including those who are allergic to eggs, have had severe reactions to the vaccine in the past, or children under 6 months old. Although most people do not experience serious problems after receiving the swine flu vaccine, there are a few common side effects to be aware of.

In general, the swine flu vaccination is safe for most people, but no vaccine is 100% safe for everyone. The risks of complications from the vaccine are typically lower than the risks from getting the flu itself. About one or two people out of 1 million who are vaccinated might develop an autoimmune disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) from the vaccine, although the flu can also cause that condition.


The swine flu vaccination that was distributed in 1976 was associated with a higher risk of GBS, although the reason behind the link is still unclear. At that time, of the 48 million Americans who received the vaccine, approximately 500 developed GBS. The vaccine used today is different from the one in 1976 and is regarded as much safer due to updated procedures to make it. The vaccine is purified to eliminate contamination, and only selected viral proteins are used instead of the full virus. According to several studies, there is no apparent association between the current swine flu vaccination and an increased risk of GBS.

It is considered to be safe for pregnant women to receive the swine flu vaccination since there are no indications of harm to either the fetus or the mother. In most cases, doctors recommend that pregnant women receive the vaccine because they are at high risk of serious complications from the flu. Pregnant women who have concerns about the vaccine can request a thimerosol-free version, which means it does not contain the mercury-based preservative.

There are some people who should not receive a swine flu vaccination because it might not be safe. People who are allergic to eggs or any of the vaccine components should not get the shot. Those who are moderately or severely ill should wait to recover, and those who have ever had GBS should consult a doctor prior to receiving the shot. Also, it is not recommended for children under 6 months old.

The most common side effects of the swine flu vaccination are soreness and swelling at the injection site, which occurs in about one in three people. Headache and fever occur with about 10 to 15% of people who get the shot. Usually there are no serious complications, and less than 1% of people have any side effects other than soreness.



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