Can the Flu Shot Make You Sick?

Have you ever gotten the flu shot and felt a little sick afterward? You’re not alone. Many people feel under the weather after receiving the vaccine, causing them to wonder,

“Can the flu shot make you sick?”

The short answer is no, you can’t get the flu from the flu shot.

However, you can get flu shot side effects that feel almost flu-like.

Worried About Getting the Flu Shot This Year?

Although the annual flu epidemic has become as regular as the changing of the seasons, it’s not necessarily predictable.

In fact, because the timing, severity, and length of flu season varies from year to year, it’s impossible to guess what this one will be like.

That said, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu shot for everyone 6 months of age and older to reduce the risk of illness — and to help avoid spreading the influenza virus to others.

The flu shot contains an inactive flu virus that consists of only half the virus — the part needed to cause an immune response. After getting the flu shot, most people have some flu shot side effects, including redness and soreness at the injection site.

These normal symptoms usually last for only a day or two.

Why Does It Feel Like I Have the Flu?

You may also experience other flu shot side effects, like a low-grade fever, body aches, headache, and an overall feeling of illness that many people mistake for the flu. These symptoms are the body’s normal immune response to the inactivated virus in the vaccine.

If experienced at all, these effects — which are much less severe than actual influenza — usually last for only one or two days after vaccination. So, although you may feel sick, you don’t have the flu. To alleviate flu shot side effects, try to stay hydrated and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Is It Risky Not to Get a Flu Shot?

The CDC estimates that each year, up to 20 percent of all Americans will contract the influenza virus, and more than 200,000 will be hospitalized due to flu-related complications.

Experts considered the 2017-2018 flu season severe, with high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits, high hospitalization rates, and elevated and geographically widespread influenza activity for an extended period.

Read more here on preparing for the upcoming flu season.

Children were especially affected.

In the United States, a record number of children died from flu last year, and approximately 80% of those deaths occurred in children who did not receive the flu vaccine.

Influenza also poses significant risks to the elderly and those with immune system complications.

Even if you’re not considered high risk, it’s important to get immunized to protect those who can become extremely ill if exposed to the flu virus.

Thankfully, flu shots — the best way to avoid the flu — are readily available at your local GoHealth Urgent Care center.

A few days of flu shot side effects is a small price to pay to keep yourself and others healthy and safe.

And the actual price of a flu shot is also small: GoHealth Urgent Care offers flu shots for free with insurance.*   


Walk in today or save your spot online. Select your location below and find an urgent care center near you to check-in online.

See our prices on co-pays and same-day visits, with and without insurance.

GoHealth Urgent Care partners with these regional healthcare providers:

* Flu shots are free with most insurance plans or offered as a discount in most GoHealth Urgent Care markets, except in New York (Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care), where they are $20 regardless of insurance coverage.