Why Flu Symptoms Aren’t A Reason to Give Up the Vaccine


Having the flu can be a major health concern, which is why many people guard their wellbeing with a flu shot or vaccine. However, if you feel coldy afterwards, you can end up dismissing the benefits of your flu shot and decide against wasting your time with it in the future. But wellness expert Maria Trimarchi argues that there are non-flu outcomes of flu shots that feel like the flu, and this is causing you to make a big mistake.


1. You Run a Fever and Feel Achy Afterwards: According to Trimarchi, ‘That general achy feeling, nausea and low-grade fever that developed soon after you got your flu shot isn’t an indication that your attempts at preventing this year’s flu failed — it’s actually to be expected. Wait, expected? These are normal side effects in many people, caused by the body’s immune system responding to a foreign invader. Additionally, the flu shot may leave your arm feeling sore, and there may or may not be some redness and swelling where the shot was given. All of these side effects should be mild and should only last about a day or two — not too bad of a trade-off when we’re talking about a day with a sore arm compared to a week of full-blown flu.’


2. You Catch a Cold: ‘You’ve been sneezing, you have a sore throat and you’re beginning to develop a bit of a cough,’ notes Trimarchi. ‘Don’t be disappointed that this year’s flu shot failed you – it’s likely you’re suffering something other than the flu. The common cold is often confused for the flu, but the two illnesses aren’t caused by the same thing. Additionally, only strains of the influenza virus are included in the flu vaccine. There are a few respiratory illnesses that can look a lot like colds and flu, despite being neither. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), respiratory adenoviruses and parainfluenza viruses also cause upper respiratory illnesses that feel a lot like having the flu. RSV, for instance, usually develops as a cough with a stuffy nose, sore throat, earache and fever, and it can cause other conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Adenoviruses also may cause respiratory infections such as pneumonia, as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye). And parainfluenza viruses are a common cause of croup in kids.’


3. You Get Nonovirus: Trimarchi points out, ‘Influenza gets blamed for a lot of ailments that it doesn’t actually cause; for example, the “stomach flu.” There really isn’t such a thing as stomach flu. The flu doesn’t involve vomiting or any other gastrointestinal distress – it’s a respiratory illness that’s caused when you come in contact with a human influenza virus. Noroviruses, however, do cause stomach flu symptoms; nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain are all classic norovirus complaints – and you may also have a fever, headache or general body aches (which might make you think you have influenza).’


4. You Get the Flu: ‘This may come as a surprise to many, but you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccination itself,’ says Trimarchi. ‘You just can’t; the virus is in the vaccination is inactivated (that mean’s it’s been killed). You can’t get it from the nasal spray, for that matter, either. But despite this, many people’s personal experience sometimes suggests otherwise. There’s a good reason for this happening, though, and it’s not the fault of the vaccination; it’s your body. It takes two weeks, give or take a day or two, after you’ve been vaccinated for your body to build up a level of antibodies great enough to protect itself against the flu when you are exposed, but in the meantime you’re just as vulnerable as you were the day before you got vaccinated. Plus, the flu vaccine can only protect you from the known strains of the flu that were around when the vaccine was formulated. If a new strain develops, you won’t be covered.’

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