Can You Get Sick From A Flu Shot?

| Women's Health

It's that time of year again. Not fall or Thanksgiving, but flu season — and you and your family need to get the flu vaccine. You may have some questions about the flu vaccine, like "why do people not feel well after they get their flu vaccine?" and "can the vaccine give you the flu?". These are just a few important questions that people ask about the flu vaccine every year.

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One of the most popular thoughts is that you can get the flu from the vaccine itself. The quick answer is no! The flu vaccine is made in two different ways, either by:

  • A flu vaccine virus that has been “inactivated” and so is not infectious
  • Or with no flu vaccine viruses at all

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There are some common side effects when you get the flu shot, however! People commonly experience soreness, redness, tenderness and swelling where the shot was given. This lets you know that the vaccine is working! The soreness is caused by a person's immune system making the antibodies it needs to fight the flu. People can also experience side effects such as a low-grade fever, headaches or muscle aches. If these side effects last more than a day or two, contact your doctor. People do experience severe reactions, but very rarely.

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It takes up to two weeks for your body to make antibodies to fight against the vaccine. So maybe you're showing flu-like symptoms even after you received the vaccine? It's a possibility that you caught the virus prior to getting the vaccine, or maybe you don't have the flu but instead, a similar cold, like rhinovirus. The other options are that you caught a flu virus that wasn't protected by the flu shot that you received or even that the flu shot just didn't work. The flu shot doesn't always work the way it's supposed to and so sometimes doesn't provide adequate protection against the virus.

The CDC conducted a randomized study in which some people got the flu shot while others got a saltwater shot. The only difference that they saw was an increased soreness and redness at the injection sites of the people who had the flu shot. There was no difference in side effects when it came to body aches, fevers or coughs, proving that the flu shot won't make you sick.

If you want to find out more information about the flu, visit the CDC website.