This is a very common question during flu season. It is a serious question from the patients who ask, and it is a main deterrent in the fight against the flu. If you think the West Nile is scary, the Influenza virus kills up to 30,000 people annually.
To put minds at ease, it is impossible to catch the flu from the flu shot. There are no living organisms in the vaccination. The dead virus particles cannot cause a disease.
What some people might feel when they get the vaccine is possibly a reaction. And by reaction that means the immune system responding by building antibodies against the flu particles. When the immune system is in hyper drive, sometimes people can fill ill, but the large majority of reactions from the flu vaccines are smaller reactions.
Some people get a localized reaction and their arms are painful where they received the vaccine. When I got the shot last year, I felt sore for three months. However, it is possible to still catch the flu even if you had the flu vaccination. If this happens, it is usually a mild illness. This happened to me two years ago.
Because this year's flu is vicious, it is more important than ever to get the vaccine. It is not even peak season and we're seeing very high numbers of influenza like illness as well as positive flu numbers in the emergency room and clinics in this area.
In fact, Texas is one of the highest number of positive flu like illnesses and flu positives in the nation.
So by all means, please get your vaccination as soon as possible if you haven't already.
Dr. Justus Turner Peters, a family physician at Glen Rose Medical Center's Pecan Plantation clinic, received his medical school training at Creighton University School of Medicine in Nebraska and completed his family medicine residency at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Board-certified in family medicine, Dr. Peters' practice encompasses the care of infants and children as well as adults of all ages. He also conducts ongoing research in the areas of childhood obesity and lower extremity injuries. He serves as the county's Local Health Authority.