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Who Should Not get Flu Shots?

By Cathy Rogers
Updated May 17, 2024
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Those who should not get flu shots include babies less than six months of age, those who have an allergy to eggs, people who have a moderate or severe illness with fever at the time of vaccination or those who have had a serious reaction to a flu vaccine in the past. More specifically, doctors do not recommend flu shots for those who have experienced Guillain-Barre syndrome within six months following a previous flu shot. Guillain-Barre syndrome is an acute, autoimmune disorder that is generally marked by weakness or paralysis in the legs, upper limbs and/or face.

Due to the fact that people with cancer already have compromised immune systems, it is generally recommended that cancer patients get flu vaccines. Vaccines are of two types, however: those that contain an inactivated or killed virus, administered through a shot in the arm; and those that contain the live, or weakened, virus and are usually administered through a nasal spray. Cancer patients should receive the inactivated vaccine. All seriously ill patients should consult their doctor before making a decision about flu shots.

Others who might make the choice to not to get a flu shot, but are not discouraged by medical professionals, include those who are not in close contact with others who are at high-risk of complications of the flu or those who are simply not worried about getting the flu. Pregnant women should get their flu shots to prevent the flu during pregnancy. Viral illnesses like colds and the flu often last up to three times longer in pregnant women, so that is misery most people want to avoid. Additionally, pregnancy can increase a woman's risk for complications of the flu. Even nursing mothers are safe to receive flu shots; the vaccine is safe for breastfeeding mothers and nursing children older than six months.

When considering whether to get flu shots, people should consider the facts. If a person has an infant who is too young to get a flu shot or cares elderly friends or relatives, she should consider getting a flu vaccine to protect her family and friends. People cannot get the flu from the vaccine.

The flu, or influenza, is not just a bad cold; it is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by a virus. Although many people do not have complications, the flu can be deadly. Sometimes the flu leads to serious problems, such as pneumonia, that can require hospital visits or stays.

Flu virus strains change frequently. If a person received the previous year's vaccine, he is likely not protected from the current year's virus. Even if a person does get the flu after having taken the vaccine, he will usually have a milder form of the illness.

Medical professionals recommend getting the vaccine as early as possible, preferably by October or November. It takes two to three weeks for the antibodies to develop after receiving the vaccine. It is never too late to get the shot, however, because flu season usually lasts through March.

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Discussion Comments
By anon970503 — On Sep 18, 2014

I have subcutaneous Lupus, and my doctor told me I cannot have a vaccination that contains a live virus, like the nasal type, or the shingles vaccine.

I was hospitalized two years ago after a severe reaction to the DPT vaccine when all three components caused a reaction. I passed on the flu shot last year and will this year. I get rashes often. I feel these drug stores and other places that give the vaccines do not know enough to ask elderly people if they have any autoimmune problems.

By anon122277 — On Oct 27, 2010

And some also contain animal DNA, such as introduced by processing through monkey livers. Most people would do well to pass on the largely ineffective flu vaccine. Some have been seriously injured/paralyzed by them, although very rare. I've read that less than 40 percent of doctors get the flu shot.

By carpusdiem — On Oct 27, 2010

If you plan on taking a flu shot.

Ask for the list of ingredients in your flu shot.

Most flu shots contain:

1-Thimerosal - a mercury derivative added as a preservative.

2-Formaldehyde - to kill viruses.

3-Aluminum - to promote antibody response.

4-Ethylene glycol - also known as antifreeze, used in vaccines as a disinfectant.

5-Phenol - a disinfectant.

6-Squalene - an adjunctive that puts the immune system into overdrive.

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