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Flu Vaccines Have Good Safety Records

Safety of 2011-2012 Flu Vaccines

Photo: A patient consulting with her healthcare professional.Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses that experts predict will be most common during the upcoming season. The 2011-2012 flu vaccine protects against an influenza A (H3N2) virus, an influenza B virus, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus.

Over the years, flu vaccines have been shown to have a good safety record. Most reports of problems after flu shots are mild side effects such as soreness where the shot was given. The most common side effects from the nasal spray flu vaccine are runny nose or congestion.

Flu Vaccines are Safe for Pregnant Women

It is important for pregnant women to get a flu shot. The nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. The flu shot given during pregnancy has been shown to protect both a mother and her baby (up until 6 months of age when the child can be vaccinated) from flu.

Flu vaccine safety studies have also shown that flu vaccination does not cause miscarriage during pregnancy and it can be given during any trimester. Millions of pregnant women have safely received the flu shot over the years, and more pregnant women are getting vaccinated against flu than ever before. For more information, see Pregnancy and Influenza Vaccine Safety.

How Flu Vaccines are Monitored

Every year, CDC works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health care providers, state and local health departments, and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines. CDC also works closely with FDA to ensure systems are in place to promptly detect health problems following vaccination.

CDC and FDA are monitoring the safety of 2011-2012 flu vaccines through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is the nation's frontline system to detect potential vaccine safety problems. VAERS receives reports from anyone who knows about or has experienced a health problem following flu vaccination. Although VAERS cannot determine if a flu vaccine caused a health problem (or adverse event), the system can detect patterns of potential concern that might require investigation.

CDC also manages the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) Project. The VSD Project contains information on more than 9 million people in the participating managed care organizations. VSD is used to assess whether certain health outcomes are more likely to occur after flu vaccination than would be expected. VSD also is used to conduct other immunization safety studies when needed, as indicated by medical literature reviews, reports to VAERS, changes in immunization schedules, or the introduction of new vaccines.

Some People Should Not Get Flu Vaccines

Photo: A familyThough flu vaccines are safe for most people, some people should not get the flu vaccine. Children younger than 6 months old are too young to be vaccinated, and anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine should not be vaccinated either. People with known severe allergic reactions to eggs should consult with a doctor with expertise in the management of allergic conditions before receiving a flu vaccine.

A history of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) that occurred within 6 weeks after receiving a flu vaccine is considered to be a precaution for receipt of flu vaccines. These people should tell their doctor so they can have an informed discussion about the benefits and risks of flu vaccination.

For more information on who should and should not get vaccinated, visit Who Should Get Vaccinated Against Influenza?

You or Your Health Care Provider Can Report to VAERS

Anyone who experiences any health problems after flu vaccination should talk to a doctor about submitting a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), or they may file a report themselves. People who are not sure whether a certain type of adverse event should be reported to VAERS can talk with their health care provider.

CDC and the FDA encourage health care providers to report clinically important adverse events that occur after vaccinations. Health care providers are required by law to report certain adverse events. To get a list of these reportable events, please call 1-800-822-7967 or go to

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), people may be compensated for injuries that may have been caused by certain vaccines. Please be aware that reporting an event to VAERS does not constitute filing a claim with the VICP. Information on the VICP can be obtained by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Web site.

More Information

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Page last reviewed: November 28, 2011
  • Page last updated: November 28, 2011
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs