- A Florida hospital surveyed 700 US parents and found that more than half thought the flu shot caused flu.
- That’s a myth: The flu shot has no live viruses, so it can’t make you sick.
- But it takes two weeks for your body to build up flu-fighting antibodies after you get the shot, so you may get sick during that time period.
It seems some parents still believe the popular myth that getting a flu shot cause the flu.
Florida’s Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children conducted a national survey of 700 parents and found that more than half still believed their child could contract the flu by getting vaccinated, the Orlando Sentinel reported on Tuesday.
But the flu shot does not contain live viruses, and it cannot make you sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains.
It is possible to get sick shortly after you get the vaccine, but not because of the shot.
“After receiving the shot, it takes your body about two weeks to build up antibodies to fight the flu, so if you come in contact with the virus during that time, you may still get sick, which is why you should get your flu shot as early as possible,” pediatrician Dr. Jean Moorjani, a pediatrician at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, said in a statement about the survey.
It’s also possible that you’ll encounter a different type of virus, like ones that cause the common cold, right after getting the flu shot.
“We’re giving [the shot] in the fall – that’s when people start to get colds and acute bronchitis and things of that sort,” Dr. Malcolm Thaler, of New York City’s One Medical, previously told INSIDER. “People like to make associations between fall illnesses and getting the flu shot and it’s just incorrect.”
It’s worth noting that some people do have mild reactions to the flu shot, including low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches, the CDC says. But those reactions don’t mean the flu shot made you sick.
“It can make your arm a little bit sore, but beyond that [you might] just feel a little off for about 24 hours – a little achy and not quite right,” Thaler said. “That’s just your immune system getting charged up.”
Besides, these common reactions to flu shots are “considerably less severe” than the symptoms of actual flu, the CDC website adds. Remember that the flu may cause serious complications and can even be deadly. An estimated 80,000 Americans died from the flu last winter, and 180 of those deaths occurred in children.
The CDC recommends that everyone age six months and older get the flu shot, preferably by the end of October. (People who are allergic to components of the vaccine should not get vaccinated.)
Not sure where to get a flu shot? Use this tool from the CDC to find a location in your zip code.
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