Can you get the flu from getting a flu shot?
You cannot get the flu from a flu shot or the nasal-spray vaccine, according to the Family and Preventive Medicine Department at UAMS. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the influenza vaccine, available by shot or by nasal spray, each fall before the flu season starts. Recent studies show that getting vaccinated can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%, depending on the virus “strain” that is circulating.
The vaccines work by exposing your immune system to the flu virus. Your body will build up antibodies to the virus to protect you from getting the flu. The flu shot contains dead viruses, while the nasal-spray vaccine contains live but weakened viruses.
The Effectiveness of the Flu Vaccine
Even if you get the vaccine, you could still get the flu. There are two things that can impact the flu vaccine’s effectiveness. The first is the patient’s characteristics, like age or health. The second is the similarity between the viruses used to create the flu vaccine and the actual flu viruses spreading in the community.
If you get the flu shot and still get the flu, you are probably still better off than someone who hasn’t been vaccinated at all. Typically, this will result in a milder case than people who aren’t vaccinated. The vaccine is especially recommended for people who are more likely to get really sick from flu-related complications. This includes:
- Children between 6 months and 19 years of age
- Pregnant women
- People who are 50 years of age and older
- People living in long-term care facilities
- Individuals who live or work with those at risk from complications, such as teachers, parents and healthcare workers
To get your own flu vaccination or to learn more about making an appointment at UAMS, visit the Center for Primary Care today.