It's that time of year again, folks — the time when colds, coughs, and tummy aches galore try to ambush you and the ones you love. I'm sure you've already been told a billion times to get your flu shot — not to mention lectured countless times about why it's so important — but still, it's understandable if you're a little hesitant about it. After all, getting a shot of any kind is never fun, and there's always the possibility of experiencing weird side effects after the fact. For instance, does the flu shot make you tired after you get it? A sleepy girl's got to know, you know?
According to Dr. Phil Mitchell, medical director and vice president of medical affairs at DispatchHealth, while the flu shot can make you feel a little lethargic and out of it at first, he says it's pretty rare for the vaccine to have long-lasting negative side effects. "More typically, patients experience a local reaction where they received the shot with pain or a little swelling for a day or two," he tells Elite Daily in an email.
He also points out that, contrary to popular belief, the flu shot does not cause the flu, even if you swear you feel like crap after you get the vaccine. "The flu shot causes an immune response, which some people can mistake for the flu," Dr. Mitchell explains. "Your body is responding to the flu vaccine, [and it's] reacting this way because it's building up knowledge on how it will attack the flu if you get exposed."
According to the doctor, these side effects won't last long, and you should feel better about a day or so after getting the flu shot.
Dena Nader, M.D., regional medical director at MedExpress, adds that the side effects of the flu shot can be noticeable sometimes — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these can include soreness/swelling where you got the shot, muscle aches, headache, fever, and nausea — but she says they're still not nearly as bad as actually getting the flu. "Tiredness is not usually a side effect of the flu vaccine," Nader tells Elite Daily over email. "However, that's not to say some may not experience feelings of slight discomfort or weakness after getting vaccinated."
According to both Mitchell and Nader, it's crucial that you get your flu shot each year, despite any potential side effects you may experience. Think about it this way: The flu spreads really easily, as per the CDC, so you're not only protecting yourself from getting sick when you get the vaccine, you're also ensuring that the people around you — including those who may not be as well-equipped to fight off the infection, like young children and elderly people — will stay healthy, too. Plus, as Dr. Mitchell points out, the CDC recently reported that, during the 2017-2018 flu season, influenza caused approximately 80,000 deaths and flu-related complications, making it the "the deadliest [flu] season in more than four decades," according to CNN. As you might imagine, Dr. Mitchell tells Elite Daily that these numbers "overwhelmed doctors and ERs."
"We see flu spread very easily in places like apartment buildings, workplaces, and college campuses," Dr. Mitchell says. "The flu vaccine reduces the odds you will get the flu, typically makes it less severe if you do contract it, and helps limit the spread of the virus."
Bottom line: Go get your flu shot, girl. The side effects really don't sound that bad, and it seems like the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks.
"It's important for you, your family, neighbors, and co-workers to get the flu vaccine," Nader tells Elite Daily, "because the more people who protect against the flu, the less [the] flu [will spread] in general."