For The Last Time -- You Can't Get The Flu From The Flu Shot

by Mike Julianelle
Originally Published: 
image via Getty Images

It’s just not possible, says science

A lot of people skip the flu shot for a lot of reasons. Many even claim that they don’t get the flu shot because the vaccine itself gives them the flu. Well, science is here to inform you that that’s not possible.

But it may make you feel crappy.

Recently, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough went on Twitter to inform his followers that after previously deriding the flu vaccine, he is actually planning on getting the shot soon. Since we’re in the middle of flu season, Scarborough’s tweet doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary.

Many people on Twitter are claiming that the vaccine that is meant to protect you from the flu had actually given it to them.

Unfortunately for those tweeters, they’re wrong. At least according to science, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told Today that it’s biologically impossible to contract the flu virus from the flu shot.

He explained that the vaccine is built from a previous, dead version of the flu virus, but it never contains the entire thing, so no, you’re not getting injected with the flu. Dr. Shaffner dismisses most cases of people feeling sick after getting the shot as mere coincidence.

Dr. Michael Ison from Northwester University agrees, and thinks it’s merely just a matter of timing. “Most of us get our flu shots in the fall,” said the professor, who works in the division of infectious diseases at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “That is when rhinoviruses are circulating…Most people think a cold is just a stuffy nose, but you can get really sick from a cold. In fact, many viruses can make you as sick as the flu does.”

Correlation does not equal causality!

“We all know the rooster crows before dawn,” Dr. Shaffner said. “But we don’t think the rooster makes the sun come up.”

Getting the flu from a flu shot is one of many misconceptions the Center for Disease Control has tried to clear up.

There are other explanations for feeling flu-like symptoms like fatigue or a headache after getting the vaccine. “There are a few people who feel a little fatigued after getting the shot,” Schaffner told Today. “And a few get a headache. These are all part of the body’s immune response to the vaccine. It’s not influenza.”

A cold is not the flu, and if you ever actually have the flu, you’ll know the difference pretty quickly. The the flu is rampant this year — and fears that it will infect you are unfounded. The shot doesn’t reach full effectiveness for a few weeks after getting the shot, so if you do get sick immediately afterwards, it’s likely because you already were.

Every year, my father sends me approximately 5000 text messages and emails urging me to get the flu shot and, eventually, after about the 4999th message, I do. Now, thanks to pesky science, I have no argument against it.

(h/t TODAY)

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