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Friday, September 27, 2013

Flu Shot Reaction

I have noticed that my blog stats show that a lot of people are reading this blog post.  If you or someone you know has had a reaction to the 2013-2014 flu vaccine, please leave a comment.  I'm trying to gauge just how widespread the problem is this year.  Thank you for your help! 

Like a lot of people, my husband, elderly mother, and I got our flu shots last Saturday.  None of us are allergic to eggs and we've never had any previous reactions to the flu vaccine.  I assumed that getting a bit more prepared for flu season was going to be a relatively simple, non-event like usual.  It was for both my husband and mother.  I, however, had a reaction and ended up with terrible hives within a few hours of getting my vaccination.  I did an online search and found lots of examples of other people who had the same reaction and even one woman who had an identical reaction:  hives covering her legs.  Many of the people who had the hive reaction from their flu vaccinations wrote about having chronic hives off and on for months!

I filed an online adverse reaction report with VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and hoped for the best.  My hives were entirely gone within three days and I thought that it was over.  Last night, I started itching and it quickly escalated into full-blown, I'm being attacked by mosquitoes-style hives and this time, it was all over my arms, buttocks, legs, and feet.  It was an awful night.  I took Benedryl and used a few different topicals and nothing made a dent in the itching.  I tried desperately to not scratch but kept awakening to find that I had been scratching in my sleep.

Has anyone had a similar reaction?  How long did the chronic hives last?

Does anyone have any unusual home remedies for hives?  I've tried all the normal remedies and nothing is working!

In case anyone wants to know the particular vaccine that I received:  Afluria 2013-2014 Pre-filled Syringe  (manufactured in Australia and distributed by Merck)

UPDATE:  My hives got much worse and I went to the doctor.  Two steroid shots and a warning to never again get a flu shot and I am still itching an hour and a half later.  I would rate the pre-shot itching at a 10 on a 1 to 10 scale and it's about an 8.5 right now.  I've got Zantac so, I'm prepared for the inevitable indigestion that I always experience when I've had steroids.

Oh, and the lovely part is that the steroids will also suppress my immune response to the flu vaccine so, I've gone through all this for nothing!

UPDATE II:  I itched all night and I'm still itching. It's so miserable attempting to work while trying to concentrate on not scratching.

UPDATE III:  (9/30)  Today was a good day and there was very little itching.  Oh, how I hope this means that I've turned a corner with the hives...

UDPATE IV: (10/1)  The hives are slowly returning and I now have aching and stiffness in my shoulders, arms, wrists, and legs.

UPDATE:  (10/8)  I'm getting occasional patches of hives and my flu shot arm still feels like I've been punched extremely hard.  When is this going to end?

UPDATE:  (10/12)  No hives for two days but my the pain when I move my arm has not lessened.

UPDATE:  (10/19)  I've not had hives for several days but my shoulder/arm still hurt and the pervasive, dull body aches still continue.  I'm guessing that my immune system is still very 'angry'.

16 comments:

  1. Poor thing! I know how bad hives are since I am allergic to many medications. I stay away from flu shots although I was considering getting one this year although I will not be getting one now. Thank you from all of us for reporting your adverse affects. Have you seen your doctor? I usually have to have a steroid injection followed by a few rounds of pills. Get well soon.

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    1. I feel for you; I've got a lot of allergies to a few medicines (aspirin, penicillin, and sulfa drugs) and a hodgepodge of foods and other things like pollen and even (some) cats.

      Now that the hives have returned, I will probably be heading to the doctor but mainly to get the reaction into my records. I don't want to be prescribed prednisone or any other steroids--especially if this is going to be hanging around for awhile. No one in my family seems to react well to using steroid medications so, that's not really a good option for me.

      Good luck if you do decide to get vaccinated. This is supposed to be a fairly rare occurrence but it's uncomfortable, regardless.

      Thanks for stopping by and the well wishes!

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  2. I hope this will subside soon. I know it must be miserable. Got my shot yesterday. No reaction thank goodness. Hang in there.

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    1. Thank you so much. The hives come in waves. Just when I think it's subsiding, I pop out with more hives and itching. I'm so glad that you didn't react when you got your shot.

      Thanks for visiting my blog!

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    2. I am having the same type hives! Mine feels more like needles starting at the injection site and travels! This has been going on for a month now! I have never been allergic to eggs or poultry and had never had a reaction before! The strangest thing is if I each chicken...it causes a reaction within 3o minutes! The doctor said it may be the protein in the chicken! I feel your pain! This is miserable! Mine seems also to hit it waves...about every 3 days I have an acute onset! It gets better, then the wave comes again!

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    3. Thank you for commenting. I'm really hoping that we can get an idea of how frequently this reaction is occurring this season. I'm so sorry to read that you're having the hives, too. My hives have slackened off a bit but my arm and shoulder are very sore and it actually hurts to wash my hair or change shirts. Feel free to email me: LibellulaJewelry (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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  3. Oh that sounds just horrible! I've never gotten a flu shot, and I definitely never will now, what with my already awful itchy skin issues. I'm so glad you're doing better now.

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    1. I don't really want to dissuade anyone from getting a flu shot because they really can save lives but if you feel it's not for you, then *don't* do it. I haven't had any itching in two whole days but my left arm (flu shot and one of the steroid shots) is stiff and a bit sore today. I checked with the doctor and the delayed stiffness/tenderness is a frequent side effect of the steroid shots.

      I never got your package off to you. Everything is just sitting there in two zip baggies waiting on my memory to kick in. I promise to be in touch!

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  4. I had no trouble with the flu shot until this year. Within hours of getting the shot I had horrible chills, headache, neck ache, and basically felt like I was coming down with the flu. Supposedly, these are the MILD side effects. I am on the third day now and hope these symptoms go away soon. My research shows that the flu shot is only 50% effective. After everything I've been through I will not be getting the shot again.

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    1. I'm so sorry that you're dealing with this, too. Please let me know if you end up also dealing with hives, too. I hope that you don't--it was hellish.

      Hang in there! It does get better. I've not had hives in weeks and the joint pain has finally subsided.

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  5. I've gotten flu shots in the past few years with no problem. This year, however, I got hives all over my torso, back, down my legs and it's spread to my arms and hands as well. After a week I saw my doc and got a week's worth of steroids, and it helped subside the itch but they came right back when the steroids ran out. Now I'm taking Zyrtec once a day and praying that they go away soon, it's been nearly a month since the flu shot. From now on I'll take my chances with the flu.

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    1. It's hard in the beginning--but if you're like me, your symptoms will gradually improve.

      When your skin gets dry from all the scratching (no matter how much I tried to not scratch, I still woke myself up from scratching in my sleep), try the oatmeal bath from Aveeno. It helped me a lot, as did their creams.

      Now that I've gotten through the hellish itching and hives, I think the hardest part is the realization that never being able to get a flu shot again puts me at risk when I'm elderly. That's not a comforting feeling.

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  6. My child may have had an adverse reaction to the flu shot this year. I say 'may have' because I know there is no way to prove it. However, my mother's intuition (and his father's intuition) tells me that it was likely the flu shot. A few days after receiving the flu shot, my child got a very stuffy nose and sore throat (general 'not well' feeling). This led to a small rash and slight itching. We took my child to the doctor for the small rash. The rash quickly turned in to hives. Went back to the doctor and the doctor diagnosed my child with Erythema multiforme. The hives became even worse and turned in to bruising all over. We then took my child to the ER and then to a Children's Hospital. My child was then diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein Purpura. Since then has had several doctors visits and another ER visit. None of the doctors agree or disagree that it was the flu shot. In fact, they have all said that we should try it again next year, but never again if my child has the same reaction. We have gotten our flu shots for the last several years and have never had any reactions like this. Now I'm questioning the safety of flu shots and doing online research. I've been trying to find out if other people have had similar reactions this year..........which lead me to your blog.

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    1. I wish your son the very best and am so saddened to read that children are having these reactions, too. Most of the adverse reactions that I've read about were in adults.

      Definitely file a report with VAERS if you or your son's doctors have not. I think some states require doctors to file. Doctors in FL have to file with the state health department.

      I feel like my reaction was due to either a contaminated batch or that I reacted to the H1N1 component of the vaccine. I've had vaccines that contained the influenza a and b components multiple times but never reacted. The addition of the H1N1 component was the glaring difference and a lot of people reacted to it during the first year that it was added to vaccines.

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    2. I haven't filed a report with VAERS yet. I have all of the information do so and plan on filing a report soon. I've started the report a few times and each time got discouraged thinking 'they' (whoever reads the reports) will just dismiss it as unrelated to the shot. The doctors have not filed the report, but did give me the info (manufacturer, lot #, etc) to do so. Just wondering, where have you read about many other people having reactions this year?? I've been reading so much, but have yet to find much related to reactions specifically from this year. I told my child's doctor(s) that I will literally spend the rest of this year researching this to determine whether or not he should get a shot next year. The problem is, my son also has a underlying medical condition that puts him at greater risk if he gets the flu. So he is in the category of people that are really urged to get the flu vaccine. Unfortunately we are now left to decide which is a greater risk for him; possibility of getting the flu or the possibility of an adverse reaction to the flu vaccine. Both are significant risks :( The medical diagnosis he has, since getting the flu shot, is something that he has to be monitored several months for (doctors visits, tests). I am absolutely devastated this has happened to him.

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    3. I have a hard time understanding why your son's doctors aren't realizing that despite his underlying conditions, that there is still a rather strong correlation between his vaccination and the symptoms that followed. My doctor told me immediately that based upon my body's reaction, that I could *never* have a flu shot again and that getting one would risk GBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and even death.

      Many people have emailed me because they preferred to keep their details off-blog. I've received as many emails regarding adverse reactions as I've received comments on this blog post. Also, be sure to use the "search VAERS data" function on http://vaers.hhs.gov/index. It's a pain to search but you'll find a lot of current info related to this year's reactions.

      One reason that you definitely need to file the VAERS report with all medical records is in case your son's symptoms have not resolved within 6 months, you may need to file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to help recoup some of your son's medical costs. Keep good records and make sure that the doctors are photographing your son's progress, too.

      Good luck!

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