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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Fibro Feelings – Flu Vaccine Reaction

What is Fibro Feelings?

Last Tuesday I got a flu vaccine. I hadn’t gotten one in a few years, but this year my doctor really thought I should get one. I had gotten the flu vaccination shot (TIV) the first four years I had fibromyalgia and never had any problems, so I figured I should just bite the bullet and get one this year. I decided to try the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) since my doctor said they recommend that healthy people switch between the shot and the spray for better resistance.  I figured if she thought I was healthy enough to qualify as a “healthy person”, I did to. The other perk that came with the nasal spray was that I didn’t have to get a shot. I was already getting lab work done, so one less poke was A-ok with me! The spray was super easy to receive (just “inhale on the count of 3″ in each nostril) and although I was warned it tastes badly, it didn’t taste badly to me. I am used to using generic Flonase though and that stuff tastes icky!

Fast-forward to five hours later and I had a HORRIBLE headache. I took an hour nap, but when I woke up my head was still hurting just as badly. Excederine helped knock the edge off my headache, but I was still not feeling well that night. I had horrible chills, but no fever. The next morning I awoke to a slightly sore throat and my nose was running constantly. I went through tons of Kleenex! Thursday morning my throat still hurt somewhat, but my nose switched between running and congestion. I was sleeping horribly, getting chills, having worse Fibro Fog than normal, sneezing often, feeling out of it and having crazy crazy dreams when I was sleeping. Finally I started feeling better on Saturday afternoon, but even now (eight days later) I’m still having some congestion. At no point did I feel as sick as actually having the flu.

So, should people with fibromyalgia get the flu vaccine? My doctor’s office confirmed I did have a reaction to LAIV. I think I’ll stick with getting the TIV shots in the future. (UPDATE: When I went back to the shot I had no problems) The main difference between the two vaccines is that LAIV is a live, weakened virus and TIV is a killed virus. It is hard to find definitive information on the flu vaccine and fibromyalgia. Some say that  those with fibromyalgia are more susceptible to having a compromised immune system or that an immunization could push our over-active sensitivities into overdrive. Most information that I find still suggests that people with fibromyalgia should get vaccinated. Of course, since everyone’s fibromyalgia presents itself a little differently, the post-vaccination effects will be different for many.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says LAIV should NOT be given to people with chronic diseases. They make sure to point out that this is not exclusive to the list of chronic disease they specifically outline, but that is is their official answer for all people who are not “healthy.” They define a “healthy” person as “one who does not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.” The National Fibromyalgia Association suggest that you talk to your doctor about whether the flu vaccine is right for you.

What has been your experience with getting the TIV or LAIV flu vaccine?

flu virus

The icky flu virus*

*Image Credit: Image from


Comment from Kailey
Time October 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm

I’ve never gotten a Flu Vaccine, but I did just recently have a very similar response to a Tetanus Booster. Within a couple of hours I ached all over, basically like a full body flare then came down with cold/flu like symptoms that are still with me now. I’ve been told it is just coincidence and I must have already been getting ill. I personally am not so sure, as I felt perfectly fine (better than usual) before the booster.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks for sharing your experience, Kailey! I also had a reaction to my tetanus booster a couple years ago. That was the first (and only other) time I’d ever had more than a minor reaction to a vaccine/booster. For days I felt nauseous, fatigued, had a headache, chills, extreme swelling, pain and heat at the injection site and more. At the time I was seeing my old, not-so-great doctor, so whether I should get the booster again is a topic I’ve been planning on discussing with my current doctor.

UPDATE: I got the Tdap booster while pregnant and my arm was sore for a few days and maybe I was a little bit more fatigued. Overall, it was A LOT better than that previous time and I’m not sure if it was because I’m pregnant or something else.


Comment from Maura
Time November 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I recently received the flu shot (including H1N1 vaccine). I also got a tetanus shot the same day. I don’t normally get a flu shot and haven’t since being diagnosed with FM 3 yrs ago. I was very nervous about it, but my doctor strongly recommended it. He was concerned that the flu could be really magnified for someone with FM. I am happy to report that I did not have a reaction. However, I think it’s important to note that at the time of the shots I did not have any fibro symptoms. I had just “survived” a 2 month+ flare up and was feeling good on that day.


Comment from Selena
Time November 5, 2010 at 12:45 am

I got the flu shot in 2008 that caused me a massive migraine headache–and migraines are not a usual symptom of my fibromyalgia.

After that, my doctor and I decided to bypass the flu shot. Since I am mostly homebound and not around kids, my risk of getting the flu has actually decreased in recent years.

I now have a script for Tamiflu that I can fill if I get the flu.

Thanks for researching this and providing the information about the flu nasal mist. I had no idea about the contraindication for chronic illness and will definitely steer clear of it!


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks everyone for sharing all of your experiences! With less concrete information published, it helps to hear from others!


Comment from Sue
Time November 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I am not healthy enough to receive one per my doctor… so i will not get one…


Comment from Shannon – Fibro Warrior
Time November 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm

The last time I had the flu shot was 1 year ago and I had a horrible reaction each and every time. This year I absolutely refused to get the shot or the nasal spray. I’m already hypersensitive to everything in the natural world – no need to alienate my body further.


Comment from Penny
Time December 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm

I got the flu shot 8 days ago. I have been in a flare ever since. Never had a flare this bad. One would think on the 8 day you would be getting better but my muscles are feeling so heavy and my joints ach when I move. I am praying for relief. I will never take another shot. This was very rough on my system.


Comment from amynluv
Time December 27, 2010 at 8:13 am

The last time I got the flu vaccine was in 2009. I got the flu shot. Before I got it I asked my less than competent doctor if it could cause a fibro flare. He assured me that it couldn’t. After receiving the flu shot I went directly into a THREE WEEK fibro flare. I will never, ever get the flu shot again.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks for sharing your reactions, sorry to hear they were bad though!


Comment from Amy K
Time December 29, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is good to know the difference between the spray and shot. I have been leery of the flu shot and concerned about a reaction since developing fibromyalgia. Hearing others experiences helps so much. Thank you for sharing!


Comment from Leti
Time October 19, 2011 at 10:30 am

I have received the flu shot every year because I cannot afford to get the flu.
I get the shot every time because I know the mist is s live virus. They should have explained that to you. I am so sorry you had a reaction.

Hope your doing better, and thank you for sharing.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Yes, I’m fully better because I wrote this post last year! =) This year I’m going to get the shot.


Comment from Lauren
Time October 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

This is consistent with what I heard from my GI! Having Crohn’s, I was concerned how the flu vaccine would interact with my Remicade treatment. My gastroenterologist said that the shot is fine and recommended, but I should avoid the spray. Glad to hear it from someone else, too!


Comment from Angela
Time October 5, 2012 at 10:27 pm

In December 2009, well before being diagnosed with fibro, my grad student self managed to contract Swine Flu, which progressed within a week to pneumonia (though by then I’d had Tamiflu and felt mostly better). As an asthmatic, this resulted in 3 days’ hospitalization and 2 weeks of flat-on-my-back-tired recovery, plus another 6 months before I felt “back to normal.”

I’ve always been careful to get the flu shot because of the asthma, and since the H1N1/pneumonia adventure, I’m on the priority list for flu vaccinations. I have a worse reaction since they added the H1N1 to the formula (at least, the one I get) but it rarely goes beyond a couple days of half-flu type aches – like a minor flareup, as it turns out – and a sore arm.


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