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The flu vaccine could give me the flu.

Welcome to “A Virtual Q&A with Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacists”! Join our pharmacists as they answer your questions on various health and medication topics.

The flu vaccine could give me the flu.

In short no, the flu vaccine comes in two forms: as an injection, and as a nasal spray. Flu shots do not contain live viruses. The influenza vaccine is composed of killed influenza virus strains that were in circulation in the previous year, as well as those determined to be at risk for the current year. The virus is treated in a laboratory so that it will not cause disease, but the body will recognize it as a foreign invader and produce antibodies against it. By having antibodies build up before influenza actually appears, individuals are able to fight off the virus before it can cause symptoms. Although the flu vaccine that comes as a nasal spray does have live viruses, they have been weakened so they are not strong enough to make you sick either. After being vaccinated against the flu, it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to work. Therefore, it is possible to catch the flu prior to the vaccine becoming effective. The flu vaccine does not provide 100% protection against the flu and the efficacy is different each year depending on the predominant stains and circulation. You can also coincidentally get sick from other viruses and bacteria around the time you get your flu vaccine. Because of this, people may mistakenly think they have the flu when they actually have a cold or another bacterial infection.

Whether you have questions about your prescription medications, over-the-counter products, immunizations, or other health concerns, our pharmacists are here to help.

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters.

This information included in this recording is correct as of August 14, 2020.