Can you get the flu by having a flu shot?
“You cannot get the flu from a flu shot or the nasal-spray vaccine,” says Dr. Charles Smith, of 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. “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,” says Dr. Smith.
However, even if you get the vaccine, you may still get the flu. 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
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