Are Asthmatics More Likely to Suffer Flu Vaccine Side Effects?

Question: Are Asthmatics More Likely to Suffer Flu Vaccine Side Effects?

Answer: In general, most asthmatics tolerate flu vaccination without problems and do not experience flu vaccine side effects anymore than others getting vaccinated. However, there are a number of flu vaccine myths that prevent many people from getting vaccinated. While generally very safe, there are a number of both minor and serious flu vaccine side effects that you should be aware of.

Are Asthma Exacerbations One of the Flu Vaccine Side Effects

The inactivated flu vaccine does not increase asthma exacerbations in the two weeks following vaccination. On the other hand, the live attenuated nasal spray vaccine is associated with wheezing and the package insert warns against giving the vaccine to young asthmatics or anyone who has recently wheezed.

Is the Flu One of the Flu Vaccine Side Effects?

While some asthma patients will report mild symptoms such as sore throat, cough, and hoarseness after getting a flu vaccination, the virus in the inactivated vaccine is killed, so it can't give anyone the flu.

Minor Flu Vaccine Side Effects

Just as with all medical treatments there are potential side effects. Some of the minor flu vaccine side effects include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Fever
  • Malaise or just feeling poorly overall
  • Myalgias or muscle aches
  • Headache

Generally, these side effects occur within several hours and will resolve on their own.

You can often prevent these flu vaccine side effects by taking Tylenol before and after your vaccination.

Major Flu Vaccine Side Effects

Anaphylaxis is a rare, but life threatening reaction that may occur after asthma and other patients receive a flu vaccination. While it occurs in only 1 out of 1,000,000 vaccinations, you will need to see an allergist if this occurs or if you develop any worsening of your asthma after getting vaccinated.


American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers. The safety of inactivated influenza vaccine in adults and children with asthma. N Engl J Med 2001;345:1529-36.

Kmiecik T, Arnoux S, Kobryn A, Gorski P. Influenza vaccination in adults with asthma: safety of an inactivated trivalent influenza vaccine. J Asthma. 2007 Dec;44(10):817-22.

Centers For Disease Control. Accessed October 22, 2009. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine.

Rank MA, Li JT. Clinical pearls for preventing, diagnosing, and treating seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza infection in patients with asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Accessed October 24, 2009.

Continue Reading