Many people have heard rumors that the flu shot can cause the flu. Is this true?
No. The influenza vaccine is a “killed” vaccine, so all of the virus is killed and it cannot cause live infection. Therefore, the flu shot cannot cause you to get influenza. However, you may be already getting another virus at the same time (cold, stomach bug) or you may have mild side effects from the shot. Side effects are usually a sore arm, mild nausea and muscle aches.
Influenza is a really bad infection, usually causing severe fever, sweats, chills, and cough. The cough can last for weeks after the rest of the symptoms are gone. Usually, people feel like it has a sudden onset, like they were “hit by a truck” or are knocked “flat on their back.” It is very
different from the mild aches and mild increased temperature that can occur as side effects from the flu shot.
Influenza can be a serious infection that causes patients to end up in the hospital or even die. People who are particularly at risk for bad inluenza infections are those with asthma, the young, the old, or anyone with a chronic infection like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Please get your flu shot! It can protect your life and the lives of those you love!
Call your doctor’s office to schedule an appointment for a flu shot, or go to your local pharmacy. Broadway Family Medicine does offer flu shots, usually covered by health insurance. If you don’t have insurance, they are generally available at local pharmacies like Cub, Target and Walgreen’s.
By Dr. Tricia Hall, family physician and faculty at University of Minnesota Physicians, Broadway Family Medicine Clinic