Can the Flu Shot Make You Sick?

A friend once told me that he went to a clinic to receive a flu shot only to wake up the next day to discover he was down with cold, coughing and sneezing rigorously. He was stunned that the very ailment he was protecting himself seemed to have been transferred to him through the vaccination itself. He is one of the many that have had unfortunate experiences with flu shots and concluded it is of no use. There was a time when people worried about the mercury in the flu shots and the United States Public Health Service made a recommendation that it should be excluded in the production of the vaccines. But, the Ethyl mercury present in the preservatives used in the manufacture of vaccines is readily excreted from the body making it quite safe for use. This is contrary to methylmercury which is not present in Thimerosal, which is the mercury-based preservative employed in protecting the vaccines.

Is the Flu Shot Bad for You?

            Not at all, the flu shots are there to help and support one’s immunity to Flu. Contrary to people’s skepticism, flu vaccines make life during the winter months quite comfortable. Flu vaccines are produced with either inactivated viruses or recombinant vaccines that only utilize the DNA encoding of the virus without the presence of the virus itself. According to a study carried out as early as the end of the second millennium by Bridges et al., they discovered that there were no adverse reactions from receiving flu vaccinations.

Is it too Late to Get the Flu Shot this Season?

It is never too late because one can still be infected with Flu as late as spring. As far as the Flu virus is still in circulation, it is still advantageous to get protected from the infection. One of the primary reasons for being vaccinated is that one cannot predict the time one will be infected, and once infected one can even be of danger to those around. The most vulnerable are the old, young and immunocompromised people that are in the vicinity, one may be able to struggle and deal with the discomfort, but the complication that may be experienced by babies and older adults around may be very fatal.

Why is There Such a Flu shot Controversy?

One of the major reasons is because some people still come down with Flu even after vaccination. But, understanding the fact that it takes a few days for the body to develop the required immunity against the virus provides enlightenment. Because if one gets exposed and infected by the Influenza virus before the resistance is up to par one can still fall sick.

Another issue is that one can easily be infected by other viruses apart from the Influenza virus. One of those is the Rhinovirus; it is also related to the common cold and shares similar symptoms. Therefore, when a person that has already taken the flu shots starts to exhibit such signs, they begin to doubt the efficacy of their vaccination.

One research once came up with the conclusion that a relationship exists between being vulnerable to respiratory infection after taking flu shots. It became a topic of interest among scientists, many more studies were carried out, but none came to the same conclusion. The reason why the former study arrived at that finding was not understandable or discovered.

Can I Get a Flu Shot With a Cold?

The main people that the flu shots are a contraindicated for are those people that are significantly ill. If one merely has a cold, sore throat or a cough, one can still go ahead to take the shots. The challenge with receiving flu vaccines when sick is that it may affect the optimal response of the immune system against the vaccines, thereby exposing one to the risk of being infected still. In some other cases, it could affect one’s recovery from the current sickness. But unless the cold is very severe or there is a very high fever, there is nothing to worry about when it comes to the accepting the administration of the vaccination.



Is there Mercury in Flu Shots?

Firstly, it is important to note that flu shots come in a single-dose vial or a multi-dose vial. A single-dose merely means the containers contain a single dose and it is used once, and the bottle disposed off. But in the case of the multi-dose vaccines, more than one dose of the vaccine is contained in the vial allowing it to be used more than once. However, the risk is that inserting a needle more than once may compromise the integrity of the vaccine, hence the use of a preservative. This is where Mercury comes into the picture indirectly. Thimerosal is a preservative that contains mercury. It is this Thimerosal, which is now utilized in the manufacture of the flu shots. Its function is to protect the shots from the potential risk of contamination that the multiple introductions of the needle into the multi-dose vial poses. There are controversies about mercury that is contained in flu shots causing autism in children, but there is no evidence to this and scientific studies have also debunked this hypothesis. Even at that, the use of thimerosal and multi-dose vaccines have mainly been stopped. Furthermore, the prominent use of the single-dose bottles has eliminated the need for the inclusion of preservatives in vaccines.

Many misconceptions arise about the benefits of receiving flu shots, and most people are ill-informed about its advantage. The truth is that the viruses vary in their mechanism and makeup from one season to another, making it a bit technical to combat them. But, significant improvements in medical technology and research are being effected annually to ensure people’s safety and good health. If there’s any worry at all, consult a Doctor for clarity and enlightenment can be done, to receive a credible, reputable and professional perspective. Flu can be very frustrating and discomforting, the amount of money and time spent in recovery can be avoided by taking the flu shots to boost one’s immune system.


Bridges, C., Thompson, W., Meltzer, M., Reeve, G., Talamonti, W., & Cox, N. et al. (2000). Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit of Influenza Vaccination of Healthy Working Adults. JAMA284(13), 1655.

Duda, K. (2017). Why You Shouldn’t Get a Flu Shot While You’re SickVerywell. Retrieved 8 February 2018, from

Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (2017). Retrieved 8 February 2018, from