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Can You Get a Flu Shot With a Cold?

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Updated March 26, 2014

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Question: Can You Get a Flu Shot With a Cold?
Have you ever planned to get a flu shot and then woke up with a cold? If you are concerned about getting the vaccine when you have cold symptoms, we can help put your mind at ease.
Answer:

Flu shots are recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months old now, but there are certain people and certain times when you shouldn't get one. Having a cold isn't necessarily a reason to put off getting your flu shot, but the symptoms you have may mean you need to put it off for a few days.

For the most part, common cold symptoms do not prevent you from getting a flu shot.

The exception would be if you are running a significant fever (over about 101 F). Since fevers are pretty uncommon with colds, this isn't something you will likely run into. They are more common in children who have colds though, so if you are trying to get your children vaccinated, you should monitor their temperatures if they are showing signs of illness. The Pediatrician may decide that it is better to wait until the fever has resolved before giving any vaccinations (influenza or otherwise).

Other reasons people should not get the flu vaccine include:

  • Severe egg allergy
  • History of severe reaction to previous flu shots (arm soreness, minor rash or mild flu symptoms are common side effects of the vaccine and are not considered severe reactions)
  • History of Guillain-Barre Syndrome after a flu shot
  • Under 6 months of age - the vaccine is not approved for use in children this young but evidence shows that getting a flu shot while you are pregnant can help protect your baby for up to 6 months after she is born!

So the bottom line is, you can get a flu shot with a cold - as long as you don't have a fever too. If you do have a fever, wait until it has been gone for 24 hours without taking any fever reducing medications before you try to get your flu vaccine.

Sources:

"Key Facts About Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine." Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 28 Mar 12. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 22 Aug 12.

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