In this article, learn about why the flu shot does not cause the flu, some reasons a person might get sick after getting a vaccine, and how the shot helps protect against illness.
Can the flu shot give you the flu?
A headache is a common side effect of the flu shot.
Some people believe that the flu vaccine contains living viruses and can give a person the flu. This is not true.
Scientists make the most common flu vaccine using an egg based manufacturing process. The vaccine contains inactivated, or dead, flu viruses.
When a health professional injects the vaccine into a person’s body, the person’s immune system starts to develop antibodies to fight the illness — even though the virus is inactive.
If a person comes into contact with flu virus again, their body will recognize it and already has the right antibodies to attack it quickly and keep a person from getting sick.
Many other misconceptions about the flu shot causing the flu are due to the side effects a person can experience after they get the shot.
Examples of these side effects include:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these symptoms tend to appear shortly after receiving the shot and will go away within 1–2 days.
Researchers have conducted studies wherein people received either a flu shot or a shot that contained just salt and water.
The participants reported similar symptoms, including fever, cough, and runny nose, regardless of whether they received the vaccine or the placebo. The only main difference in symptoms was that those who received the flu shot reported more soreness at the injection site.
Why do people still get the flu when they get a flu shot?
There are several reasons a person may get sick after receiving a flu shot.
Some people may think that they have the flu when they are ill due to a different viral or bacterial infection. This is because many flu symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, which can also occur during flu season.
It takes about 2 weeks for a person to develop immunity to the flu after receiving a flu shot. During this time, it is possible that a person could be exposed to the flu virus and become sick.
The flu vaccine represents researchers’ best predictions about which flu virus strains will be most prevalent for that year. However, a person can still come into contact with a strain of flu virus that they are not immunized against.
The primary benefit of getting the flu shot is preventing the illness. This also helps prevent its symptoms, including high fevers, chills, a racking cough, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue.
Getting the flu shot also contributes to something called “herd immunity.” Herd immunity helps prevent the overall incidence of flu, as people who get the vaccine do not get the flu and therefore cannot pass it to other people.
The CDC explain that for the 2016–2017 flu season, the flu shot:
- prevented an estimated 5.3 million people from getting the flu
- reduced flu-related visits to the doctor by 2.6 million
- reduced flu-related hospitalizations by 85,000
The CDC also note that in 2012–2015, getting the flu vaccine reduced a person’s likelihood of requiring admission to an intensive care unit by 82%. The shot also lowers the risk of childhood death from the flu.
The flu can be life threatening to people of all ages. Even healthy young people can die from flu complications. It is important not to underestimate the seriousness of this illness.
Older adults may be more at risk of flu complications.
Anyone can experience flu complications. However, some people are more likely than others to experience the most severe side effects of the flu.
People at risk of complications include:
- older adults
- people with cardiac disease
- people with weaker immune systems, such as those with HIV
- pregnant women
- people with chronic lung conditions
Even if a person does not fall into any of these categories, getting the flu vaccine helps protect those at greater risk.
Getting the flu shot will not give a person the flu. It can protect against getting the virus and spreading it to others.
Although a person may have some mild feelings of discomfort for a few days after getting a flu shot, they are usually minor symptoms. Getting the flu itself can cause symptoms that are much more severe.
Doctors usually release the flu vaccine in early fall. Ideally, a person should get the vaccine before late October.
It is never too late to get the flu shot. Even getting the flu shot in the spring can still protect a person against potential exposure.
Stressed Students, Bridesmaids Drama, And More: An Advice Column From A Total Amateur
Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results! NBC 1. “Dear Andy,I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying…
Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results!
I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying to 12 schools, 10 on the west coast and two in BC. I’m a high achieving student (I’m in five AP classes, president of two clubs, volunteering and a job, etc.) and I don’t want to go somewhere that’s all about the pressure, but I still want a high quality education. I’m so lost, help!”
—The Overwhelmed Student
You posted this just to dunk on all of us academically, didn’t you?
Kidding. In all seriousness, you can get a very good education at a bunch of different schools. And when you’re done, you’ll have a degree that probably nobody will ever verify! In my completely amateur opinion, the only reason people think the “Ivy League” schools are better is because a lot of wealthy, well-connected people go there (and have gone there), and therefore when you graduate from one, you’re more likely to get in at some fancy law firm or whatever because of your connections. So if you aren’t planning on being like, IDK, the CFO of Waystar Royco or something, just pick the school that you really want to go to. Where are you going to be happy living? Is one of the schools in a city you already want to move to and/or the city that has jobs in your future profession? Is it important for you to be close to home? How many Wendy’s are there on campus, and do they carry Spicy Nuggets? These are the questions you should be asking.
Oh, wait, actually…forget all that. Go to the school that will cost the least when you factor in tuition, room & board, and any scholarships you might get. Student loans are a curse and you want as little of them as possible. In the end, you might not even end up doing the thing you studied in college. Wanna know what degree I have? A BFA in Theater Performance. An acting degree. And now here I am, writing for a website. You’ll be fine.
I got married this summer, and I decided to choose only family to be my bridesmaids. For me this included three female cousins and my (now) sister-in-law. My husband, on the other hand, decided to do a mix of family as well as friends from high school for his groomsmen. I had no problem with this at all.
I had a few friends who I knew would expect to be bridesmaids, so I made it clear to them from the very beginning that I would be choosing family only as to not have a huge wedding party, but I told them they were not any less important to me and that I still wanted them to be involved in the wedding as much as they felt comfortable with. Most of the friends I had this conversation with were very understanding, however one straight up told me that she was disappointed (this was two years before the wedding).
Now it’s been a few months since I got married and this friend (a friend from childhood) started talking about the wedding. She told me she felt left out of the wedding since she wasn’t part of the wedding party. It particularly bothered her that my husband included friends and I didn’t. She then proceeded to tell me that it was difficult for her to be there the day of my wedding because of these feelings. AT MY WEDDING. She also included the fact that she didn’t want to upset me and that it doesn’t change our friendship. But if that is the case then why say anything in the first place? I’ve already said one too many times the reason for my bridesmaid choices and how important she is to me regardless. And she says she understands. I just wish she would let it go. Ever since this conversation I feel like I’ve been seeing her in a whole new light.
I do care about her feelings, but I stick by my decision and I don’t regret anything. I feel like I’ve done everything I can to make her feel better.”
—The Besieged Bride
[TL;DR: Bride had only family as bridesmaids, groom had some friends in the mix, bride’s childhood friend felt left out and complained about it a few months after the wedding.]
Question one: How drunk was your friend when she brought this up to you? If she was like, a 6 or more out of 10, I say let’s give it a pass and hope she got it out of her system.
Question two: Has your friend had a wedding of her own yet? If yes, then she should’ve understood the situation, because wedding planning is a special kind of hell and inevitably you have to make difficult decisions like this one that might hurt people’s feelings. So if you’ve planned your own wedding, you know the deal and you’re able to say to yourself, “It’s their wedding, I’m just going to be supportive and have fun.” If she hasn’t gotten married yet, she’ll realize later that it was totally inappropriate to complain about this to you. Hopefully.
I have been taking so many of the relationship quizzes on BuzzFeed but they all say I’m single. The major problem is I have an S.O. Is she just faking or am I?? Help me!! Is my girlfriend not actually mine or are we real?”
—The Quizzical Quiz-Taker
You’re not real. This is all a simulation.
—Andy (or am I?)
I’m not sure where to live. I live in Milwaukee, WI, right now. Moved here three years ago for school, but that fell through because Milwaukee is friggin expensive. My family wants me to move back to the other side of the state, towards Minneapolis/St. Paul. What should I do?”
—Meandering the Midwest
Get the fuck out of there, it’s so cold! Listen, I used to live in Michigan, and it was depressing because it was grey and miserable nine months out of the year. Now I live in Southern California, it’s sunny and beautiful and my vitamin D levels are through the roof. Migrate south, seriously.
But if you HAVE to stay, I will say that everybody who lives in Minneapolis seems to LOVE Minneapolis for some reason.
My problem is that I struggle with feeling attractive. I started taking birth control when my boyfriend and I started dating (six years ago). I started gaining the weight right after. I’m now a size 12 and my boyfriend is a slender guy. I haven’t felt attractive in the last year. I gained so much weight at one point I was a size 16. I’m back to a 12 and trying to lose weight again. I don’t feel sexy or beautiful in any way. I prefer to keep my shirt on during sex now. I don’t know why my boyfriend still finds me attractive. I have a tummy, I have rolls when I sit down, I just don’t know what he sees anymore. Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.”
—Struggling With Size
First off, don’t worry about your boyfriend. Clearly he finds you attractive, and when you actually care about someone, the size tags on their clothes don’t matter to you at all. Appreciate that fact and find some security there.
Now, consider the possibility that if your boyfriend finds you attractive at any size, you can too! It’s not easy. It requires shedding every bit of toxic influence that the media and our society overall has thrown at you for your entire life. That takes time and work.
But if you are worried about your physical health at all, consult a doctor. There are many different types of birth control and like 40 different pills, and everyone reacts to each one differently. It can take time to find the right one, and not every doctor is going to be helpful about it. Advocate for yourself if you’re unhappy with your medication. You may have done all of this already and I’m just sitting here mansplaining BC to you, but if so at least you can cross that off your Mansplaining Bingo Card.
That’s it for this week. But if you’re having a problem that you need advice about, let me know! It could be anything: petty arguments that you need a judge to decide who was right and who was wrong, help making life decisions, relationship issues — I’m your completely unqualified man. Email firstname.lastname@example.org (for total anonymity) or leave a comment here!