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The Truth About Whether You Should You Get the Flu Shot When You’re Sick
There’s a reason you’re told to get the shot every single year: is a respiratory infection that can potentially turn deadly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from flu last season.
The scary part? The flu can feela lotlike the common cold at first, since its symptoms typically include fever, chills, achy muscles, sore throat, cough, and headaches.
But what if you’re already feeling a bit under the weather in the first place? How sick istoosick to get the flu vaccine? And does it really matter whether you get vaccinated while you’re ill or after you’ve perked up?
Turns out there are a few legitimate reasons to delay your annual flu shot—but a mild case of the sniffles is probably not one of them. Here, physicians specializing in family medicine and infectious disease explain everything you should know about getting the flu vaccine when you’re sick.
Getting a flu shot when you’re mildly ill
First and foremost, flu is potentially deadly and the common cold is not. So, even if you feel a little bit blah, you should get your flu shot ASAP. The same goes for children 6 months and older. This is important because it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to create the antibodies your body needs to fight off the infection.
“Runny nose, cough, congestion, feeling crummy, under the weather, a little bit of nausea, that’s not a big deal,” says Sean McNeeley, MD, board president of the Urgent Care Association and medical director at University Hospital Urgent Care Network in Cleveland.It’s better to get the shot, he says.
People tend to forget about it or skip it, he says, “and then they end up with the flu, which is a horrible result.”
If you catch a cold but you’re otherwise okay, getting the flu shot shouldnotworsen your symptoms, assures Claudia Vicetti, MD, a Cedar Falls, Iowa, pediatric infectious disease specialist with UnityPoint Health.
Getting a flu shot when you’re very sick
A runny nose is one thing, but a significant acute illness is another. If you’re spiking a high fever, have pneumonia, or need to be admitted to the hospital,“you want to wait until you recover,”Dr. Vicetti says.
Two things can happen if you forge ahead your flu shot when you’re very sick, Dr. McNeeley explains. You might not get a “good enough effect” from the vaccine and it could take longer for your illness to resolve. The problem is your body is trying to do two things at once—fight whatever’s ailing youandbuild resistance to the flu.
“Football players don’t go in at halftime and lift weights for a reason,” he says. “The same thing when you’ve got a fever and you’re really sick.”
🚨 Getting a flu shot when you’ve got a chronic illness
It’sespecially important for people with chronic conditions to get a flu shotevery year. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, folks with chronic illnesses “are the most important people to get the flu shot,” says Dr. McNeeley.
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