Can I Really Get Sick from a Flu Shot?
Have you ever had a friend or family member tell you that flu shots can make you sick? Some people get mixed signals about flu shot results and get worried about the potential side effects of this vaccine.
If you are considering whether you should get a flu shot this year, then your best choice is to talk to an experienced nurse or doctor. As you learn more about the flu vaccine and how it works, you’ll see that this treatment is a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of getting influenza each season.
Why Flu Shots are Recommended
The risk of flu typically rolls around when the seasons change. The severity and length of the flu season vary each year, making it a challenge to predict how the population will respond in a given year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all people over the age of 6 months old get an annual flu shot. This treatment is designed to reduce the risk of illness. Getting the flu shot not only decreases the likelihood that you will get sick with the influenza virus, but it also helps to prevent the risk of spreading the virus to other people.
How Flu Shots Work
This sickness is caused by a virus that can be passed through contact with other people who are carrying the virus. If your body has been exposed to the virus and antibodies have been created, then your immune system can protect your health. As a result, you don’t get sick when exposed to people who are carrying the virus.
There are hundreds of viruses and countless ways that a virus can morph with time, which is why the flu can’t be predicted with exactness. But medical experts have developed a system where they can identify the 3 or 4 viruses that have the highest likelihood of causing the flu each season. Then the flu shot is designed to provide immunity against these viruses.
Each year, flu shots are created using two different methods, using the selected viruses for the season:
- Inactive versions of these viruses are put in the shot. They are “killed” so they aren’t infectious.
- The shots only contain half of the virus DNA: the portion needed to cause your immune system to react.
Regardless of the way the flu shot is made, the immune response can be triggered so that your body creates the antibodies without experiencing the infection.
Will the Flu Shot Give Me the Flu?
The simple answer is: no, the flu shot won’t cause you to get sick with influenza. In fact, most people experience no symptoms after getting the flu shot. But some people have minor side effects for a few days after getting a shot. These small symptoms usually go away within a few days.
If you experience a few small symptoms after the flu shot, they are not as extreme as the experience you will have if you get sick with the flu. When comparing your options, it makes sense to get a flu shot as an alternative to a potentially dangerous illness and complications from getting the flu.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s better to get the flu than to have the vaccine. The flu can be a serious disease, especially if secondary infections develop with the illness. People with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk of potential complications. It is estimated that at least 200,000 people are hospitalized for the flu every year. As you learn about your options, you’ll see that getting the flu vaccine is a safer choice than risking the possible complications from an illness.
Why Do Some People Get Sick After a Flu Shot?
Even though a flu shot won’t make a person get the flu, some people feel a bit under the weather a few days after. These minor side effects are what make people wonder whether a flu shot can make you sick. It is also possible that the symptoms can be caused by other viruses, such as the common cold. The flu vaccination doesn’t protect against other illnesses, only influenza.
Some of the side effects from flu shots appear to be flu-like, and might include:
- Soreness and redness at the injection site
- Low-grade fever
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body aches
Often, these minor symptoms are mistaken as the flu. The truth is that the symptoms are the normal immune response within the body, and they are much less prominent than the symptoms that occur when you are sick. Antibodies are created to provide the immunity that you need, and then you will start feeling normal again within a few days.
In rare cases, a person might experience a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. If this happens, the symptoms are usually present within a few hours, and medical treatments can be administered to counteract the allergic reaction.
If you experience any of the flu shot side effects listed above, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated and take it easy if you need to rest. Over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can be taken to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Should You Get a Flu Shot This Year?
Unlike other vaccines that last a lifetime, the flu shot needs to be re-administered each year. Not only does your immune protection decline over time, but the newest version of the flu shot ensures that you have optimal protection against the current strain of the flu virus.
Even though you won’t get the flu, you might feel a little uncomfortable for a few days after the shot. These symptoms are much milder than getting the flu. When you compare the miserable experience of having the flu to the minor side effects of the flu shot, it’s easy to see why a shot is a convenient way to avoid a serious illness this season.
Is it Time for Your Flu Shot? Visit an Urgent Care Nearby
Now that you understand why it is important to get a flu shot, the best thing you can do is choose this vaccine before it’s too late. It takes approximately one to two weeks for your body to develop immunity. Early treatment means that you will be protected when the flu season peaks this year.
One of the simplest ways to get a flu shot is by visiting an urgent care nearby. At University Urgent Care, we offer quality medical services for people of all ages. Our urgent care is near TCU, but that doesn’t mean that these services are only for students. We provide flu shots and urgent care services for everyone.
Our caring staff invites your family to visit our clinic to ensure you are prepared for the flu season. Our team of board-certified nurse practitioners is here to answer your questions and help with all of your Urgent Care medical concerns. Contact University Urgent Care right away to schedule an appointment for your annual flu shot: (817) 697-0700