Medical Misconception: Flu Shot Causes the Flu

Each month we set the facts straight regarding a popular health and wellness myth.

This month’s myth: You can get the flu from a flu shot.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released early estimates regarding last year’s flu season, and the figures exemplify the need for individuals to get a flu shot each year.

Those record-breaking flu estimates indicate that more than 80,000 people died from the flu last season and more than 900,000 were hospitalized.

The ongoing myth that the flu shot will give you the flu is one of the reasons that individuals do not receive the flu vaccine.

According to the CDC, the flu vaccine is made in two ways. The first is with inactivated, or killed, flu viruses that do not cause infection. The other is by using a single gene from a flu virus to produce immunity without causing infection.

Some people may experience side effects after receiving the flu shot, including low grade fever, muscle aches and tenderness at the injection site, but these usually go away within a day or two.

“In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get inactivated flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat,” according to the CDC website. “The most common reactions people have to flu vaccines are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness.”

It is recommended that healthy individuals ages 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year to protect themselves—and others—from the virus. Those especially at risk include young children, older adults and those with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. 

Remember, it takes about two weeks for the full benefits of the flu vaccine to take effect.

For resources and more information, visit the Carroll County Health Department website at and Carroll Hospital’s website at

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