Did you get sick after getting the flu shot?

Did you get the flu shot? That’s great! Did you get sick after getting the flu shot? That’s not so great, but here are some reasons as to why this may have happened.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are four reasons why a person who has received the flu vaccine still may get sick.

  1. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, but there are many other illnesses that circulate, especially during the winter months. Many illnesses can have flu like symptoms, but are not in fact influenza, so unfortunately the flu vaccine will not protect you from them.
  2. The flu vaccine takes two weeks in the body to develop immune protection. If you are exposed to the flu within the two weeks after getting vaccinated, there is a chance you will become ill with the flu before the protective vaccine takes effect.  
  3. The flu vaccine is designed to protect people from specific influenza viruses that are chosen as the most common to cause illness. However, the vaccines ability to protect you depends on the closeness of the match between the vaccine and the flu virus you are exposed to. Learn more about different flu viruses here.
  4. It is important to understand that flu vaccine varies in effectiveness for each and every person. Some people who get the flu shot still may get the flu. Factors that affect how well the vaccine works include their age and their health history. For more information, visit the CDC website here.

It is a common misconception that the flu shot will give you the flu. However, according to the CDC, flu vaccines do not contain an active flu virus at all, they are either made with a flu vaccine virus that has been inactivated and therefore not infectious, or it isn’t made with a flu virus at all.

Another important factor to be aware of is that although the flu vaccine will not give you the flu, side effects may include soreness, redness, tenderness and swelling at the site of the shot. It can also cause a low-grade headache, fever and muscle aches. If these symptoms do occur, they will happen shortly after you receive your vaccination, and last for no longer than 1-2 days.

Lastly, please keep in mind that the flu shot does not protect you against the “stomach flu” which can be described as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be associated with the flu, however they can also be associated with many different viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Influenza is respiratory, not an intestinal or stomach disease.   

We encourage you to get a flu shot if you haven’t already, although it is not guaranteed to prevent you from getting sick this winter, it does greatly increase your chances of staying healthy!

Please visit any of our six UNI locations if you would like to get a flu shot, or if you are experience any flu-like symptoms. No appointment needed, walk-in, get evaluated, and feel better!

This information is not a substitute for medical advice nor is it intended as such. If you have questions about your health please contact your primary care physician, our office, or 911 in case of an emergency.