flu shot

Can the flu shot make you sick? Flu Question of the Week

flu shotYou’ve heard it so many times you might think it’s the No. 1 reason people don’t get flu shots: “Once I got a flu shot, and it felt like I had the flu.”

But that’s not really the case, most experts say.

Our expert, Dr. Catherine Hough-Telford, a fellow in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, says in a word: “No”

“You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine,” she said.

That’s not to say there are no effects whatsoever.

“Common side effects of the flu shot are soreness and aching at the site of vaccination; these symptoms should last only 1-2 days,” Hough-Telford said. “According to the CDC, there is an extremely low risk of serious side effects from the flu vaccine; rarely it can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction in individuals with severe allergy to eggs.”

She said the nasal inhalant version of the flu vaccine can cause wheezing in individuals with asthma or history of wheezing, which is why if you have asthma or wheezing, you should only receive the injectable flu shot.

There are a few reasons why some individuals may get the flu even though they received their annual flu shot, she said. Either they were exposed to the flu virus before their body had enough time (2 weeks) to make protective antibodies, or they were exposed to a strain of the flu that was not included in the seasonal vaccination.

Also, because the protective quality of the flu vaccine can vary between individuals, an individual can sometimes get the flu despite vaccination. Or, more commonly, people can have symptoms of flu-like illness that are actually caused by another virus.

 

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