The Flu Shot: the Good, the Swollen and the Fevered

While we escaped without much fanfare from H1N1, the flu season has certainly made its mark on my family already. Because we’re dealing with more flu issues yet again. No, my 6yo didn’t get H1N1 – miraculously, he seems to have remained immune while his friends and brother all have succumbed to it. So I think we’re done with the pig.

However. I decided to get both of my sons the flu shot. Since it looked like we had made it through well enough with the Swine thing, I may as well cover all our bases, follow all the recommendations of our doctor and our school, and get my kids vaccinated.

No big deal, right?

That’s certainly been the case for my all swined out 3 year old. I don’t think he even cried when he was given his shot. And since then, all he has to show for it is a quarter sized red mark at the vaccination site. No biggee.

tlegNot so for my 6yo. His leg hurt him right away after he was vaccinated. And by the time he got home from school that day, he was limping and the site was sore to touch. The next morning, he woke up with a 102 degree fever. The nurse I spoke with on the phone said that this is a normal side effect. He should take some Motrin and he should be fine in a day or so. Ok. The motrin worked wonders. But when it started to wear off, his leg actually started to swell and the vaccination site started to show a patchy rash that spread up and down his thigh.

What the hell? He’s had flu shots before, but they’ve never reacted like this!

Once again, I was on the phone with the Friday night After Hours office. I need an appointment. Now.

We were there in within the hour. By then my poor kid (who was due for his Motrin) was struggling. The fever was kicking his ass. And his leg looked awful.

fluhandoutWhat did the Doctor say? Yes, his reaction IS normal. It is not an allergic reaction since my son is not allergic to eggs (thankfully). He said he is just reacting to the inactive virus that is part of the vaccination. This is not the flu, just some side effects from it. Ok. And while my 3 year old’s reaction was simply a tiny localized red spot, my older son obviously reacted quite a bit more. He said to take Motrin* every six hours without fail for the next 24 hours. We should also keep a cold compress on his leg and the swelling should be better when he isn’t feverish. And that was that.

His fever has continued today, but the Motrin helps a great deal. So does the cold compress. I am assuming he will be back to normal tomorrow or the following day.

But still. It makes me rethink this flu shot thing. Sure, it HAS been pointed out to me that even with these fairly strong reactions to the flu shot, this is better than having the flu itself. And I agree. My 3 year old had a flu shot last year and did not get the flu. My older son didn’t get the shot and he suffered with a horrible flu for a week. So yes, this IS the better option.

That said, I can’t help but feel iffy about this whole flu shot business. This foreign “inactivated influenza” stuff being shot into my kid’s leg and putting him on his ass. My poor kid.

And with all of it’s bad press recently, I never even asked about thiomersal or whether it was being used in these vaccinations. (*hanging head in shame*) And I didn’t ask about it yesterday either. (*smacking forehead*) I gather it is rarely used any longer – or if it is, it is used in very small doses.

So where does this leave my kids? Well, they’re vaccinated – and my 6 year old does seem to be soldiering back.

But next year? Would I do this again? Not after a long, hard talk with my doctor to see what to expect. Because the Swine Flu was less of a hassle for my 3 year old than the side effects of the vaccination were for my 6 year old. I know we were lucky with H1N1 – VERY lucky. And fairly unlucky with the flu shot. So I am trying to keep my head about me through all of this – but I just can’t help but feel a bit iffy… maybe I even have a little flu shot remorse.

Flu exposures, flu shots, fevers, misery, side effects of all of it… maybe there is no escape. Maybe the flu gets you one way or the other – its just a matter of how MUCH it gets you.

Regardless, I am OVER this Flu season already. I hope we’ve paid our dues. We’ve done our time. So. Leave us alone now, ok?

*Note: While I followed the directions on the Motrin bottle, the Dr. actually noted that I had been under-dosing him for his size and that might explain his further swelling and recurring fever. It was a quick reminder that I should always check in with my pediatrician regarding dosage amounts. As they grow, so does their dosage. I should know better, Chandra Wilson told me so.


#1 Andersen on 06.20.16 at 2:27 am

Hi buddy,

Thanx for sharing this with us.

I feel sad for the son. But proper cleaning of the home is necessary to make sure that everything is good and there is no harm to your children.

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