Getting the flu shot won’t give you the flu.
As a practicing board certified internal medicine physician for nearly 20 years, I hear many reasons for not getting an annual flu shot. One of the common responses is that people have gotten the flu after getting the flu vaccine. It’s simply not true. Results from randomized and blinded studies have shown that there is no difference in flu-like symptoms – body aches, runny nose, fever, cough or sore throat – for adults who received the flu vaccine compared to adults who received a salt water (placebo) injection.
There are several explanations as to why illness may quickly follow after receiving the flu vaccine.
- You may have another virus that causes flu-like symptoms. Some people can become ill from other respiratory viruses, such as rhinoviruses. Rhinoviruses are associated with the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu, and also spread and cause illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza viruses, not other viruses.
- You may have been exposed to the flu virus before getting the flu shot. In addition, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect. Since influenza has a short incubation period of one to four days, you could easily be exposed to and become ill with the flu just before or just following the flu shot.
- The flu vaccine may not be a good match with the actual flu viruses causing illness. The flu vaccine is produced many months in advance of the flu season. There are years when mutations in the actual flu viruses circulating prove not to be a good match with the vaccine. However, getting the flu shot may still offer protection against the flu and the severity of flu symptoms.
- Unfortunately, the flu vaccine may not provide protection for everyone. This is more likely to occur among people that have weakened immune systems or people age 65 and older.
Michigan Urgent Care clinic have flu shots available for adults and children age 4 and older. The flu typically peaks in January or February, but has peaked as late as May in some years. Stop by one of our nine clinics located in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Detroit, Dundee, Grosse Pointe, Livonia, Novi, and Waterford. Our tenth clinic in Ferndale is coming soon!