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Health Education Blog

Will the Flu Shot Make Me Sick?

Posted by Staff on February 17, 2017

woman in bed with the fluThe flu shot…a dreaded endeavor for some, but a necessity when the seasons change from hot to cold, and cold to hot. You’ve heard the flu shot can make you sick, or it will protect you from being sick, or both. Each body is different, so each person has a unique experience when receiving this particular type of annual medicine. There are, however, some myths flying around about the flu shot, and what ensues after the fact. We are here to set the record straight! Fear not, there is no longer any reason to wonder what you can expect after receiving the flu shot, and what the normal vs. abnormal side effects are.

According to the CDC, there are two types of flu shots: one contains an inactivated version of the flu, while the other contains no inactivated virus and is meant to target influenza. Why is this important? Aside from knowing what you are protected against, the difference isn’t notable. As a healthcare facility we encourage understanding the medications you are receiving and how they aid in your preventative health!

What can I expect after receiving the flu shot?

It’s very common to experience redness, soreness, and tenderness at the injection site after receiving a flu shot. Some may experience a low-grade fever and headache after their dose. Both are completely normal. You see, receiving a flu shot tricks your body into thinking you have a very small amount of the flu virus. An amount so small your body can fight it off with ease, but nonetheless your body will be fighting for a short period of time. This is how you develop an immunity to a virus. In the medical field we call it adaptive immunity. Your immune system learns to fight off a virus, and once it’s done, it remembers. The next time that particular virus is introduced to your body, a normal functioning immune system can squash it quickly and efficiently.

What are the normal vs. abnormal side effects?

Normal Side Effects

As stated above, normal side effects of the flu shot are redness, soreness, and tenderness at the injection site as well as a low grade fever and headache.   In some cases you may also experience nausea and muscle aches. These are all common side effects of the flu shot.

Abnormal Side Effects

As with any medication, there is a small risk of a serious adverse reaction to the flu shot. Some studies have found a possible link between the flu shot and Guillain-Barre Syndrome to the tune of one to two cases for every one to two million vaccinated. While the link itself has not been identified or proven, it’s still a possible serious side effect.

Additional abnormal side effects to keep an eye out for include difficulty breathing, hives, weakness, paleness of the skin, swelling (especially in the face around the lips and eyes), wheezing when breathing, dizziness, and fast heartbeat. As the CDC states, if you’re having a serious adverse reaction to the flu shot these signs are most likely to develop within a few hours.

 When taking into account the normal side effects of the flu shot, it’s still far better than coming down with a flu that could have been prevented. Additionally, the handy dandy immune system memory? It can decline over time. It’s important to receive your annual flu shot to maintain preventative healthcare throughout the year. It’s better to prevent an illness from becoming a problem than to treat an illness that’s become a problem.

Did you know that Orchard Hospital has a walk-in clinic? We do! Visit us at our Medical Specialty CenterYour Everyday Health Care Clinic—if you think you may be coming down with the flu. We offer flu immunizations as well as screening, diagnosis, and treatment for the flu. We will take care of you quickly and efficiently. Appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. Open 7 days a week. It’s our goal to have fast and friendly care while delivering quality health care.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior healthcare. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.


Topics: Flu, Vaccines

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This blog is the place to find general healthcare information, news and updates, as well as ways Orchard Hospital can help!


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