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Can You Get the Flu From a Flu Shot?

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Updated June 02, 2010

Question: Can You Get the Flu From a Flu Shot?

Many people worry about getting a flu shot because they are afraid they will get the flu from the vaccine. So, is there any truth to this question?

Answer:

Well, the short answer is…no, there is no truth to it. It is NOT possible to get the flu from the flu shot.


The injected flu vaccine (the flu shot) is made from a killed virus and the nasal flu vaccine (nasal spray) is made from a weakened live virus. Although the nasal spray is made from a live virus, it cannot give a healthy person the flu.

Possible side effects from the injected vaccine include:

  • Soreness, redness or pain at the injection site
  • Low grade fever
  • Body aches

These side effects usually occur soon after the vaccine is administered and last 1-2 days. On very rare occasions, a severe or life-threatening reaction may occur called Guillain-Barré syndrome. If you are concerned that you may have had an injury from a flu shot, you can report it to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Possible side effects from the nasal vaccine include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Nausea and vomiting (in children)
  • Fever (in children)
  • Muscle aches

Because the nasal flu vaccine is a weakened live virus, people in close contact with people who have severely weakened immune systems should not get the nasal flu vaccine.


Sources:

"Questions & Answers: Flu Shot." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 24 JUL 2006. US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . 1 Dec 2006.

"Questions & Answers: The Nasal-Spray Flu Vaccine (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine [LAIV])." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 13 SEP 2005. US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . 1 Dec 2006.

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