“Make sure to get your flu shot this year!” You’ve probably heard this advice before. But you might also have heard that flu shots aren’t effective and can even make you sick. So, what’s the truth? Here’s what you should know about flu shots before you get one. 


Who Can Get a Flu Shot?

Flu shots are safe for most people who are in good health. However, there are some circumstances under which you shouldn’t get one.


Skip the flu shot if any of the following are true for you:

1. You’ve gotten a flu shot in the past, and you had a severe allergic reaction to it. It’s rare, but a few people experience dangerous allergic reactions to the flu shot. If this has ever happened to you, don’t risk letting it happen again.

2. You have an egg allergy. Flu shots are usually made with egg proteins. Talk to your doctor about what kind of flu vaccination is safe for you. He or she can help you find an option that does not contain egg products.

3. You’re sick right now. If you’re feeling under the weather, wait to get a flu shot until you’re feeling better. Otherwise, your body might have difficulty developing immunity to the flu, and the shot might not be as effective for you.

In addition to these risk factors, be aware that infants under six months old are usually too young to receive a flu shot. Because of this, if you have an infant at home, it’s especially important for everyone else in the household to get vaccinated for the flu.


Do Flu Shots Really Work?

Flu shots do work. The CDC estimates that more than 5 million people avoided getting the flu over the 2016-2017 flu season because they got vaccinated. Receiving a flu shot also makes you less likely to need a hospital stay if you get unlucky and catch the flu anyway. There’s no question about it: the flu shot saves lives. And because it’s so easy to get vaccinated, there’s no reason for most people not to do it.

However, getting vaccinated doesn’t mean that you’re completely immune to the flu. It just improves your chances of staying healthy. That’s because the flu virus mutates from year to year, and it’s impossible to predict exactly which versions of it will make the rounds during any given year. If you happen to catch a version of the virus that’s different from the version you were vaccinated against, you could still get sick. But your odds are a lot better than they would be if you didn’t get the shot at all. According to the CDC, a flu shot can reduce your risk for getting sick by up to 60%.  In most years, 90% of those who die from the flu were not vaccinated.

Finally, contrary to some rumors, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it contains no live virus at all.


What Should You Know Before Getting a Flu Shot?

Before you get a flu shot, be aware that it may make you feel a little under the weather for a few days. This doesn’t mean that the vaccine gave you the flu. Rather, it’s caused by your body ramping up production of antibodies that protect you from the flu.

Flu shots are also not effective immediately. It can take up to two weeks for your immune system to adjust after receiving the shot. Be sure to get your flu shot as early as possible in the season to maximize your immunity.

The Takeaway

Getting a flu shot is a good idea for most people. It’s easy to get a flu shot, and it could save you from weeks of sickness later on. Don’t put it off — the sooner you get your shot, the sooner you’ll be protected. Contact us today to learn how to get your flu shot.