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Can Flu Shots Cause the Flu?

We ask a local expert to debunk some myths about the flu bug.

With a lot of Floridians getting sick with the flu, we decided to address some modern folklore about the vius.

St. Joseph's Hospital's infection prevention and control manager Liz Moseley  agreed to answer questions about the flu.

Patch: Does the flu shot cause the flu?

Moseley: The flu shot cannot give you the flu. Common side effects from the flu shot are sore arm, low fever and achiness. The nasal-spray flu vaccine can cause side effects of runny nose, sore throat or cough. If someone does experience any of these side effects, they are mild and don’t last long.

Patch: Is the stomach flu a form of the flu?

Moseley: The stomach flu is not the same thing as Influenza. Signs and symptoms of flu (Influenza) are fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and feeling fatigued or very tired. Some people have vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children than adults.

Patch: Is the flu shot dangerous?

Moseley:  The flu vaccine has been given for more than 50 years and has a good safety record.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration closely monitor the safety of the vaccine every year.

Patch:  Young, healthier people don't need a flu shot, right?

Moseley: Anyone can get sick from the flu, even young healthy individuals.  Older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, etc) are at higher risk from the flu; however healthy adults, kids and teens can get the flu and become very sick from it.

Patch: Are antibiotics useful in treating the flu?

Moseley: Antibiotics only treat bacteria and Influenza (the flu) is a virus.  Antibiotics will not treat the flu virus.

Patch: Is it too early in the season to get a shot?

Moseley: As long as the flu season isn’t over, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.  Flu seasons can be unpredictable.  Flu season typically begins in the fall and lasts into the spring.  If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, it’s not too late; go get vaccinated.

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