Last month, I had to chase my husband around the house to give him a flu shot. Literally. He is one of the many people that would rather not get the flu shot. I’ve heard lots of reasons over the years, such as “last time I got the flu shot, it gave me the flu” or “the flu shot isn’t effective anyway, so why bother?” As a healthcare professional, it’s my job to dispel the rumors and educate people about the real deal with the flu shot, so here’s the scoop.

  • You cannot get the flu from the flu shot. It is possible to get sick if you were exposed to the flu virus before you got the shot or if the strain of flu you are exposed to is not included in the shot.
  • The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year depending on how well the vaccine “matches” the actual flu viruses that are circulating in the community. Scientists work very hard to predict the strains of flu virus that will be circulating each year in order to make the most effective vaccine possible. Last year, it was all over the news that the vaccine was less effective than in previous years because the viruses in the flu shot were not a perfect “match” to those that were in the community. But hey, no one is perfect.

Early studies show this year’s vaccine will be much more effective than last year and will decrease the risk of infection by 38-75% depending on the strain. Regardless, we know that getting a flu shot will help protect you from getting the flu and can make your illness less severe if you do get sick. Plus, it also decreases the risks of serious complications from the flu like hospitalizations and pneumonia!

Fast forward one month and my husband didn’t get the flu from the shot (surprise!) and our family is protected. Is yours?

– Dr. Kelly Lannutti, Medical Director, AFC Braintree