Some skip flu shot to avoid getting sick from vaccine

SALT LAKE CITY – A common reason why people skip the flu shot is because they’re worried about feeling sick from the vaccine itself, but doctors say there are some misconceptions.

With flu season around the corner, doctors recommend you protect yourself from the influenza virus with the flu vaccine. High risk groups include children, the elderly and those with long-term health conditions.

“There are thousands of hospitalizations every year due to influenza and complications from influenza,” said Dr. Brandon Webb, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Intermountain Medical Center.

Some are avoiding the flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 45 percent of Americans got vaccinated against the virus last year, which was down 1.5 percent from the previous year.

One excuse doctors hear a lot from patients is the vaccine will give them the flu.

“The answer is no: You cannot get the influenza virus from the vaccine,” Webb said.

Dr. Webb says the shot does come with side effects, including a low-grade fever, some body aches, coughing, a runny nose, headache and fatigue. So, basically flu-like symptoms that can last up to 3 days.

“Those symptoms are just due to your immune system effect as it mobilizes its resources and gets ready to protect you,” Dr. Webb said.

It is possible to get the flu even after getting the flu shot. A person may be infected with a strain that was not included in the shot, or a person may have caught the flu before the vaccination had taken effect.

“You’re not fully protected after the vaccine for at least a week and sometimes up to a month,” Dr. Webb said.

Webb understands people have reservations, but he says the benefits outweigh the risks.

“Just for comparison, you’re 30 times more likely to get struck by lightning, and over 100 times more likely to die in a car accident, than you are to have a serious reaction to the flu vaccine," Webb said.

If you still insist on skipping the flu shot, Dr. Webb says stick with the basics and practice good personal hygiene.