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I got the flu vaccine but still got sick…

You could still get sick with the flu even if you get the flu shot, or it could be something else. Here are some reasons why you may have flu-like/flu symptoms even after you got the shot:

  1. You may be sick from some other respiratory virus like the common cold, which has some similar symptoms to those of influenza. This can be confusing because these colds circulate during the same time as the flu does. The flu vaccine does not protect you from the common cold viruses.
  2. You may have gotten sick during the two week time period between which you got the shot and you develop antibodies to the flu strains in the shot. Often times this is when people say they got sick from the flu shot. However, you are unable to get sick from the flu shot.
  3. You may have been exposed to a strain of the flu that is very different from those in the flu vaccine. The strains in the vaccine are able to offer some coverage of other similar strains not in the vaccine. But there many strains of the flu and they can easily mutate to form new strains. Therefore, it can be somewhat hard to predict which strains of the flu will circulate during the season. However, the shot will more likely than not offer some coverage and that’s better than nothing.
  4. Different bodies respond differently to different vaccines. If your body doesn’t respond or make ample antibodies you may still get sick from the flu. There’s nothing around that.

You can’t get sick from the flu shot, but you may still end up sick. Nothing is certain but some protection is better than no protection. The flu can be and is deadly so please consider getting the shot for yourself and your children, not only to protect your family but to offer some herd immunity to those unable to protect themselves this season!

What is influenza “the flu”?

Flu season is upon us here in the United States, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. I’m very passionate about flu education and information, and that’s why I’m breaking down everything you need to know about the flu, the influenza virus, and the flu vaccines into three different posts over the next few weeks.

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Here, I want to focus on what the “flu” actually is, because I think the word “flu” is very misused in the United States. I often hear or overhear people saying something along the lines of, “I was throwing up all night, I must have the flu.” While the flu can cause vomiting and diarrhea, more often in children than adults, the true flu is actually a respiratory illness coupled with muscle aches, extreme tiredness, and sometimes a fever. Adults with bouts of vomiting and not the above mentioned common flu symptoms often have some other sort of stomach virus, possibly food poisoning, or something else.

The flu is also often confused with the common cold. Because both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, sometimes it’s hard to tell what you have come down with. But, the flu tends to be a bit worse than a normal cold due to a fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and a more intense dry cough. The typical cold usually results in a runny/stuffy nose and does not usually lead to serious complications, whereas the flu can lead to complications, life-threatening conditions, and even death.

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