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Why Do I Always Get the Flu When I Get a Flu Shot?

get a flu shot

Are you worried if your children get a flu shot, they’ll automatically get the flu?

Don’t be.

Flu shots DO NOT contain live viruses. They cannot give you the flu. Instead, they utilize inactive viruses or an approximation that tricks your immune system into creating defensive antibodies.

The widespread fear that getting a flu shot will directly cause the flu is 100% false.

That said, flu shots are also not 100% effective. We’re told as much in advance when we go to get a flu shot. It’s not even hidden in the fine print.

The biggest takeaway should be this: Flu shots are a virtually painless precautionary measure that have been proven to save lives of children and adults.

Here’s the thing: The viruses that cause the flu are constantly changing, and though medical science remains vigilant in its attempts to pinpoint the strains that may be problematic from year to year, the vaccination ultimately may not prove effective against strains circulating in certain communities.

Also, if your child gets a flu shot – and still gets sick – it’s likely he or she has contracted an illness that shares traits with the flu, and not the flu itself.

The flu shot does not protect against the following flu-like and/or respiratory illnesses:

  • Common cold
  • Bronchitis
  • Stomach flu

Pneumonia is also not thwarted, although those who get a flu shot and still get the flu are far less likely to develop such life-threatening illnesses as a result.

Additionally, older adults – 65 years of age and older – have been shown to have weaker immune responses to flu vaccines. Because of their high-risk status, however, they should still be vaccinated every year.

But there’s one huge, underlying – and often unmentioned – reason that many people claim they get the flu even after getting vaccinated. They simply wait too long.

The flu vaccination takes approximately two weeks to take effect and prompt the creation of antibodies that protect against the flu. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated prior to the end of October.

When you put off your vaccination until the winter months, you are voluntarily placing yourself in a clinic, doctor’s office, or pharmacy when flu season is at its peak, when more people are ill, and when contamination from door handles, pens, clipboards, and more is far more likely. And while physicians and their staffs do everything they can to provide a clean and sterile environment – germs spread. Sometimes a visit to the doctor’s office is simply unavoidable. In the case of getting one’s flu shot – the timing is in your hands.

(Getting vaccinated late in the game can still be helpful, and it is highly suggested everyone get a flu shot even if circumstances and schedules do not permit vaccination until January or later.)

The bottom line is this: During the 2017-2018 flu season, 172 children died as a result of the flu, according to the CDC. Almost 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination.

For this reason, The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated during the 2018-2019 flu season. Any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine – including inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV4) or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4) – is acceptable, and no preference has been issued for one vaccine over another.

KinderMender is now administering the flu vaccine. Don’t wait. Get your children vaccinated as soon as possible this season. Our offices are open daily.

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