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Question #: 295

Question: SOME OF MY PATIENTS REFUSE INFLUENZA VACCINATION BECAUSE THEY INSIST "GOT THE FLU" AFTER RECEIVING INJECTABLE VACCINE IN PAST. WHAT CAN I TELL THEM?

Current Solution

There are several reasons why this misconception persists: (1) Less than 1% of people who are vaccinated with the injectable vaccine develop flu-like symptoms, such as mild fever and muscle aches, after vaccination. These side effects are not the same as having influenza, but people confuse the symptoms. (2) Protective immunity doesn't develop until 1–2 weeks after vaccination. Some people who get vaccinated later in the season (December or later) may get influenza shortly afterward. These late vaccinees develop influenza because they were exposed to someone with the virus before they became immune. It is not the result of the vaccination. (3) To many people "the flu" is any illness with fever and cold symptoms. If they get any viral illness, they may blame it on the flu shot or think they got "the flu" despite being vaccinated. Influenza vaccine only protects against certain influenza viruses, not all viruses. (4) The influenza vaccine is not 100% effective, especially in older persons. For more information on this topic, go to: www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectivenessqa.htm

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