You hear it over and over again:

You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

But it depends on what you mean by cannot get the flu.

I will agree that it is true that you cannot get the flu from the actual injection. That’s the kind of thing they can test in a lab. The stuff in the flu shot doesn’t make you sick. But your immune system does.

Let me explain.

All vaccines, and I mean all of them, require  your body to mount an immune response. It’s not the same as getting sick, because you are supposedly given just enough virus or bacteria  for your body to identify the pathogen and create antibodies in case it encounters it again. If that all works out, your immune system has a ready plan of attack, and you get to call yourself immune, which is a fantastic thing to say in the face of polio and bacterial meningitis, but doesn’t work as well when it comes to  the flu, since there are just too many strains to know which one your body met up with.

The main problem with vaccines though, is that they “distract” your immune system. This notion, however, has fallen out of favor, with people either cowering in fear of vaccinations resulting in developmental delays, or rushing through a series of them, the old recommendation of not getting vaccinated if you’re feeling sick entirely thrown out as good advice. I may not have the modern medical community behind me on this, but I, for one, don’t see how a vaccine couldn’t disrupt your immune system- if it didn’t, it wouldn’t work. I have heard claims that vaccines work on a very local and targeted level, and could never result in the kind of lowered immune system that leaves one susceptible to illness. I claim that you can’t know how an individual’s immune system will react. Believe what you will.

The fact is that many people get sick immediately or soon after receiving a vaccine, and I don’t see it as an anecdotal coincidence. No, the flu shot didn’t give you the flu, but it resulted in an immune system that was too busy dealing with a vaccine to stand up to the flu virus you encountered on your way out of the doctor’s office.

Lesson learned: It’s still better to wash your hands. And if you want to do something preventative, acupuncture boosts immunity. It’s one of it’s happy little side effects. Just an FYI.


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