Flu vaccine will not give you the flu, doctors say

Despite being your best defense for influenza, many people still aren't getting the flu vaccine. A doctor breaks down common myths about the flu shot.
Updated: Oct. 22, 2019 at 10:28 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone 6 months and older to get their flu shot.

But many people still choose not to.

Flu season, like the changing leaves, comes every year.

Influenza kills tens of thousands of Americans annually.

Health experts say your best line of defense is a flu shot.

“Really any time now through March, we recommend you get it, ”

Despite doctor recommendation, many people are still skipping the shot, often because they think it makes them sick.

Dr. Jennifer Johnson, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System, says that’s a myth.

“Any time we give you a vaccine, what we’re doing is trying to get your immune system to respond to that particular virus or bacteria. And as such, when your immune system works, it creates symptoms,” Johnson explained.

Johnson says those symptoms can include a mild fever, cough or general fatigue.

However, side effects will only last 24 to 48 hours, and Johnson says they are nothing to worry about.

“We hear a lot that patients say ‘last time I got it, I got the flu from it,’" Johnson said. "You probably did not get full-blown influenza from it, in fact you can’t get influenza from the vaccine because of the way they’re made.”

So what if you are thinking: ‘I’m healthy and generally don’t get sick, so I don’t need to get the vaccine?’

"Some people who are very healthy still get pretty bad cases of influenza and end up in the hospital. But we also need you to get vaccinated so you don't infect people around you."

Those include people who are ineligible for the vaccine, like infants, and those who are most susceptible to a more severe case of the flu, like senior citizens and people with chronic diseases.

Johnson says the severity of this year’s flu strain is still undetermined, but they look at global trends to learn more, like Australia’s most recent flu season, which was the worst the country has ever seen.

Bottom line: getting your flu shot might be annoying, but influenza can be deadly.

Johnson added their patients with allergies or conditions that prohibit them from getting the flu shot, but that is very rare.

She says your health care provider can answer any questions or concerns you may have about the vaccine.

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