Most folks get a flu shot each year.
Most, but not all.
Why do some people skip it?
Can Flu Shots Cause the Flu?
Yes, some people think that getting a flu shot will actually cause them to get the flu.
It’s not hard to see why though.
The flu vaccine is not the most effective vaccine we have, so it is certainly possible that you can still get sick with the flu even though you have had your flu vaccine. Of course, that’s not a good reason to skip getting a flu vaccine, as they have lots of benefits.
Some other reasons you might still think that the flu vaccine can cause the flu include that:
- side effects after a flu shot can include a soreness, low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches, which some people might confuse with a mild case of the flu
- many other respiratory viruses can make you sick during cold and flu season, none of which the flu vaccine protects you against
- since the flu vaccine takes about two weeks to work, if you got sick shortly after being vaccinated, you may have already been exposed and developed the flu before the vaccine became effective
But why can’t the flu shot cause the flu?
It’s because the flu shot is an inactivated vaccine. The influenza virus is killed or inactivated, the viral particles are purified and split up, with only the HA and NA surface glycoproteins remaining. Those glycoproteins can not cause a natural flu infection.
What about Flumist, the nasal spray flu vaccine?
While Flumist is a live virus vaccine, it is made with attenuated or weakened strains of the flu that are cold-adapted, unable to replicate at the warmer temperatures that are found in the lungs and other areas of our bodies.
So Flumist doesn’t cause the flu either.
Hopefully this is one vaccine myth that folks will stop spreading. Remember, flu vaccines don’t cause you to get sick with the flu. Get vaccinated. Flu vaccines are your best protection against the flu.
What about those folks who say that they are going to skip the flu shot because they never get sick with the flu?
They are gambling.
It is estimated that about 5 to 20% of people get the flu each year. Unless you are rarely around other people during flu season, the chances are that you will eventually get the flu, especially if you are unvaccinated and unprotected.
More on the Myth that Flu Shots Cause the Flu
- Can a Flu Vaccine Give You the Flu?
- Flu Myth Buster
- The myth of getting the flu from the flu shot
- Everything You Want to Know About Influenza
- CDC – Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines
- CDC – Different Types of Flu Vaccines
- WHO – Influenza
- WHO – Types of Vaccines
- Ask the Experts about the Flu Vaccines
- Flu Vaccine FAQs
- Flu Myths and Facts
- Flu Facts
- Preventing the Flu: Get Vaccinated
- Influenza 101
- Setting the record straight: Debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths …
- Why we vaccinate–debunking flu vaccine myths in 25 easy steps
1 thought on “Can Flu Shots Cause the Flu?”
I am one of the unlucky ones who gets an immune reaction almost every time I get a flu vaccine. For around 24 hours after the shot I get hot, fatigued, and just slightly flu-ey. That said, if you have ever had the flu, it is immediately clear that the side effects from the vaccine are NOT the actual disease. I had it one year and needed a week off from work to recover–me, a generally healthy adult who can go a whole year without taking a single sick day–and was noticeably fatigued for almost a month afterward. I will gladly do anything possible to prevent or lessen the spread of these viruses.