What Are the Pros and Cons of the Flu Shot? (2022)

Every winter, the influenza virus causes epidemics of flu in communities throughout the country. This year may be especially burdensome due to the COVID-19 pandemic happening at the same time.

Flu is highly contagious. It causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths each year.

The influenza vaccine is available every year to help protect people from coming down with flu. But is it safe? And how important is it now that COVID-19 is a factor?

Read on to learn about the benefits and risks of the flu shot.

The flu vaccine is very safe, although there are some groups of people that shouldn’t get it. They include:

  • children less than 6 months of age
  • people who have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients
  • those with egg or mercury allergies
  • those with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)

Learn more

  • What ingredients are in the flu shot?
  • Flu shot: Learn the side effects

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

A common worry is that the flu vaccine can give you the flu. This isn’t possible.

The flu vaccine is made from an inactivated form of the influenza virus or virus components that can’t cause infection. Some individuals do experience side effects that will typically go away in a day or so. These include:

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  • low-grade fever
  • swollen, red, tender area around the injection site
  • chills or headache

1. Flu prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), receiving the influenza vaccine is the most effective way to prevent yourself from becoming sick with the flu.

2. Feeling less sick

It’s still possible to get the flu after vaccination. If you do get sick with the flu, your symptoms may be milder if you got the vaccination.

3. Lower risk of hospitalizations or complications for certain people

Influenza vaccination has been shown to lead to a lower risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalizations in some groups. They include:

4. Protection within the community

When you protect yourself from the flu through vaccination, you’re also protecting those who can’t get vaccinated from catching the flu. This includes those who are too young to get vaccinated. This is called herd immunity and is very important.

1. Still getting the flu

Sometimes you can get the flu shot and still come down with the flu. It takes around 2 weeks after receiving the vaccination for your body to develop immunity. During this time, you can still get catch the flu.

Another reason why you can still catch the flu is if there wasn’t a good “vaccine match.” Researchers need to decide which strains to include in the vaccine many months before flu season actually starts.

When there’s not a good match between the selected strains and the strains that actually end up circulating during flu season, the vaccine isn’t as effective.

2. Severe allergic reaction

Some people may have a negative reaction to the flu shot. If you have a negative reaction to the vaccine, symptoms usually occur within minutes to hours after receiving the vaccine. Symptoms may include:

(Video) Pros and Cons of Flu Vaccination

  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • rash or hives
  • swelling around the eyes and mouth
  • feeling weak or dizzy

If you experience these symptoms after getting the flu vaccine, see your doctor. If the reaction is severe, go to the emergency room.

3. Guillain-Barré syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare condition where your immune system begins to attack your peripheral nerves. It’s very rare, but influenza virus vaccination can trigger the condition.

If you’ve already had Guillain-Barré syndrome, speak to your doctor before getting vaccinated.

The influenza vaccine can be delivered as either an injection or as a nasal spray.

The flu shot can come in a variety of forms that protect against three or four influenza strains. Although no type of flu shot is recommended over others, you should speak to your doctor about which one is best for you.

The nasal spray contains a small dose of a live, but weakened form of the influenza virus.

The nasal spray wasn’t recommended for the 2017 to 2018 influenza season due to concern for low levels of effectiveness. But either is recommended for the 2020 to 2021 season. This is because the formulation for the spray is now more effective.

The flu vaccine is needed every year for two reasons.

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The first is that your body’s immune response to influenza decreases over time. Receiving the vaccine every year helps you have continued protection.

The second reason is that the influenza virus is constantly changing. This means that the viruses that were prevalent in the previous flu season may not be in the upcoming season.

The flu vaccine is updated every year to include protection against the influenza viruses most likely to circulate in the upcoming flu season. A seasonal flu shot is the most effective protection.

The CDC recommends that children over 6 months of age receive the flu vaccine. Children under 6 months old are too young to receive the vaccine.

Flu vaccine side effects in babies are similar to those in adults. They may include:

  • low-grade fever
  • muscle aches
  • soreness at the injection site

Some children between ages 6 months and 8 years may need two doses. Ask your child’s doctor how many doses your child needs.

Pregnant women should get the flu vaccine every year. Changes in your immune system during pregnancy lead to an increased risk of severe illness or hospitalization due to influenza.

Both the CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend pregnant women get the seasonal flu shot in any trimester of pregnancy.

(Video) Flu vaccine in pregnancy! Definition, risks, pros and cons...

Additionally, receiving the flu vaccine can help protect your baby. In the months after birth, if you breastfeed, you can pass anti-influenza antibodies to your baby through breast milk.

While the flu vaccine has had a strong safety record in pregnant women, a 2017 study did raise some safety concerns. Researchers found an association between miscarriage and flu vaccination in the preceding 28 days.

It’s important to note that this study only included a small number of women. Additionally, the association was only statistically significant in women who had received a vaccine containing the pandemic H1N1 strain in the previous season.

While additional studies need to be completed to investigate this concern, both the CDC and the ACOG still strongly recommend that all pregnant women receive the flu vaccine.

Manufacturers typically begin shipping the flu vaccine in August. People are often encouraged to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s available.

However, a 2017 study found that protection begins to wane over time following vaccination. Since you’ll want to be protected throughout the entire flu season, you may not want to get your vaccine too early.

Most doctors recommend that everyone gets their flu vaccine by the end of October or before the virus begins to circulate in your community.

If you don’t receive your vaccination by the end of October, it isn’t too late. Getting vaccinated later can still provide protection against the influenza virus.



Every fall and winter, millions of people get the flu. Receiving the flu vaccine is a very effective way to prevent yourself and your family from developing the flu.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a factor since a person can acquire it and other respiratory infections like the flu at the same time. Getting the flu shot will help to decrease the dangers for everyone.

There are many benefits to influenza vaccination, as well as some associated risks. If you have questions or concerns about influenza vaccination, be sure to speak to your doctor about them.


What is the good effect of flu vaccine? ›

Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization. Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2019-2020 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 105,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

Are there any downsides to flu vaccine? ›

sometimes, they cause mild side effects, such as pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. some people may experience low grade fever, headaches, and muscle aches after the shot, but these should only last 1–2 days. in very rare cases, Guillain-Barré syndrome can develop following a flu shot.

Does getting the flu make your immune system stronger? ›

But while your immune system won't have any specific “memory” of the virus, it will mount an immune response if you are infected — because that's how your immune system works. Coming into contact with germs spurs an immune response, but it doesn't do anything to make your immune system stronger.

Can flu shot cause neurological problems? ›

The experts looked at research studies to determine whether influenza vaccines increase the risk of developing neurologic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and optic neuritis, and concluded that vaccines did not raise the risk.

What are the serious side effects of this year's flu shot? ›

Possible side effects of influenza vaccination

drowsiness or tiredness. muscle aches. pain, redness and swelling at injection site. occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks - no treatment needed)

Can you still get flu after vaccination? ›

Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year? Yes. It's possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won't know for sure unless you get a flu test).

How long do flu antibodies last? ›

The researchers found spikes of BMPCs specific for influenza 4 weeks after immunization. But after 1 year, the new cells were virtually gone.

What's the best vitamin for immune system? ›

Vitamins B6, C and E are all known for their immune-boosting properties. You can get all of these vitamins from a well-balanced diet, so you don't need supplements. Some foods rich in these vitamins include eggs, bell peppers, spinach and almonds.

What drinks help boost your immune system? ›

Keeping your immune system strong is an important way to help fend off dreaded winter coughs, sniffles and the flu.
Here are six dietitian approved options:
  • Drink your greens. ...
  • Honey and Lemon. ...
  • Almond milk (with B12) ...
  • Infused Water. ...
  • Boosted smoothies. ...
  • Ginger tea.

What vitamins keep your immune system healthy? ›

8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C may help prevent infections or shorten their stay. ...
  • Vitamin E. Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. ...
  • Vitamin A. ...
  • Vitamin D. ...
  • Folate/folic acid. ...
  • Iron. ...
  • Selenium. ...
  • Zinc.
4 Dec 2020

What are the side effects of the flu shot 2022? ›

Common side effects from the flu shot include:
  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot.
  • Headache.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Muscle aches.

How long after flu shot does Guillain Barré develop? ›

According to the Vaccine Injury Table, symptoms of GBS after a flu shot should manifest 3-42 days following vaccination to bring an on-Table claim, although it is still possible to file a successful claim if symptoms do not strictly fall within this time period.

What happens if vaccine hits nerve? ›

Injections that occur below the deltoid muscle can hit the radial nerve and injections that are too far to the side of the deltoid muscle can hit the axillary nerve. If a nerve is hit, the patient will feel an immediate burning pain, which can result in paralysis or neuropathy that does not always resolve.

What are the side effects of the flu shot 2022? ›

Common side effects from the flu shot include:
  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot.
  • Headache.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Muscle aches.

How long do flu shot symptoms last? ›

Like all medicines, the flu vaccine can cause side effects. They're usually mild and normally last only a day or two. It's normal to experience side effects after a vaccine. It shows the vaccine is teaching your body's immune system how to protect itself from the disease.

How long do flu antibodies last? ›

The researchers found spikes of BMPCs specific for influenza 4 weeks after immunization. But after 1 year, the new cells were virtually gone.

Can you still get the flu after vaccination? ›

It is possible to get the flu even if you receive a dose of flu vaccine. Flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness between 40% and 60%. Sometimes people are already exposed to flu virus before getting a flu shot. It may take a couple of weeks for a dose of flu vaccine to protect against the virus.

Does flu shot weaken immune? ›

They found that getting an annual flu vaccination did not weaken the immune system. As a group, the people who got the flu shot annually appeared to have a better immune response to influenza than those vaccinated only once.

What are the serious side effects of this year's flu shot? ›

Possible side effects of influenza vaccination

drowsiness or tiredness. muscle aches. pain, redness and swelling at injection site. occasionally an injection-site lump (may last many weeks - no treatment needed)

What is the difference between the regular flu shot and the senior flu shot? ›

Some high-dose flu vaccines include 3 to 4 times as much flu virus antigen — the part of the vaccine that stimulates the immune system — as standard flu vaccines. One flu vaccine recommended for older adults has the same amount of antigen as the standard dose vaccine.

Can I take Tylenol after flu shot? ›

If you or your child has a sore arm or a slight fever after the vaccine, take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

Can flu shot cause rapid heartbeat? ›

Serious Influenza Vaccine Side Effects

Symptoms can include swelling, hives, breathing difficulties, rapid heart rate, weakness, and dizziness. Patients experiencing these symptoms should contact their doctor as soon as possible and if very sever, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.

How can I make my immune system strong? ›

6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
  1. Stay up-to-date on recommended vaccines. A strong immune system means taking advantage of the best leg up we have to protect ourselves from harmful illnesses: vaccines. ...
  2. Maintain a healthy diet. ...
  3. Exercise regularly. ...
  4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. ...
  5. Get plenty of sleep. ...
  6. Minimize stress.
21 Oct 2022

When is peak of flu season? ›

While influenza viruses spread year-round, most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February. The overall health impact (e.g., infections, hospitalizations, and deaths) of flu varies from season to season.

What is the purpose of getting a flu shot every year? ›

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against influenza (flu) is to get a flu vaccine every flu season. Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or even death. CDC recommends everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine.


1. Why 60% of Americans plan to delay or skip the flu shot this year
(First Coast News)
2. The Truth About Flu Shots: Fact vs Fiction with Dr. Lori Noble
(Penn Medicine)
3. Dr Chappell is Here To Tell Us The Pros and Cons of Steroid Injections
(In2it Medical)
4. Why don't people get the flu shot?
(American Osteopathic Association)
5. Why Do Some Health Care Workers Avoid Flu Shots? | A Kaiser Permanente Study
(Kaiser Permanente Thrive)
6. Can the flu shot give me the flu?

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