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Pain Medication Can Compromise Your Flu Shot

by Hayzell

If you’re thinking of getting a flu shot, you may want to consider the impact of your pain medication on its effectivity. Professor Richard P. Phipps from the University of Rochester states, “research shows that pain relievers interfere with the effect of the vaccine.”

Many of the pain medicines examined by Dr. Phillips are anti-inflammatory, for example, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aspirin, and Naproxen. All these medications seem to reduce the body’s ability to make antibodies when given a flu vaccine. However, timing also plays an important role. It is detrimental for the immune system if people take pain medication right before or shortly after getting a flu shot.

This can be a dilemma for people with chronic pain. Delaying or skipping anti-inflammatory medication may not be the best solution, but neither is getting the flu. It makes me wonder how other medications that are typically prescribed for pain interact with our immune systems. Then again, even if the flu shot is diluted, perhaps it’s better than having no protection at all against the flu.


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  • Bancos S, Bernard MP, Topham DJ, & Phipps RP (2009). Ibuprofen and other widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit antibody production in human cells. Cellular immunology, 258 (1), 18-28 PMID: 19345936
  • Orr, Leslie (2009). Common Pain Relievers May Dilute Power of Flu Shots. University of Rochester Medical Center Press Room. Downloaded December 1, 2010 from

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