Many people do not want to get the flu shot because they think it will cause them to get sick with the flu. Maybe in the past, they have come down with cold symptoms a few days afterward and thought it was because of the flu shot.

Here are a few quick explanations:

  • The flu shot is meant to prevent influenza (sudden onset of high fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, cough and congestion).
  • The stomach flu (vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps) is different, and not related at all.
  • It is scientifically impossible for the flu shot to cause the flu because it is a killed virus that cannot replicate and cause symptoms. It is similar enough to the actual flu virus to help your body learn how to protect itself, but not enough to cause illness.
  • It takes 2 weeks for the flu shot to be effective. If you are exposed to influenza in the meantime, you can still come down with the illness because your body is not fully protected yet.

The best way to protect yourself from influenza is to get your flu shot early and wash hands regularly. Especially when hanging out in public places in the middle of cold and flu season!

Jennifer Isham, MD, FAAP


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