(CTN News) – Getting a flu shot is probably the last thing on your to-do list if you’re feeling under the weather. Once the sniffles set in, who wants to get up, dress, wear a mask, and leave the house?
Is getting the flu shot while sick a bad idea if you’re going to go out anyway to get tissues and cough syrup? Since your body takes up to two weeks to build up flu-fighting antibodies, experts recommend getting vaccinated as soon as possible.
When you’re sick, can you get the flu shot?
It really depends on how sick you are. Flu season commenced early this year in the US; the virus has already caused 880,000 illnesses, 6,900 hospitalizations, and 360 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This is the highest number of flu-related hospitalizations in more than a decade, and flu activity is already high in many states.
You’ll need your flu shot ASAP, so if you’re feeling mildly sick, you shouldn’t be deterred from scheduling an appointment. The flu shot is generally considered safe for people with mild symptoms of illness and no fever, according to Cory Fisher, DO, a family medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic.
According to him, you shouldn’t let a sore throat, headache, mild cough, or stuffy or runny nose stop you from getting vaccinated.
There are other symptoms, however, that should give you pause, such as fever, intense body aches, and fatigue. According to Dr. Fisher, if you’re feeling awful enough not to go to school or work, you should hold off on getting the flu vaccine until you’re feeling better.
It won’t hurt you to get vaccinated while sick (it won’t!), but it might make more sense to wait because symptoms like a fever can signal that your body is already working hard to combat whatever it is. When you do receive the vaccine, you want your immune system to be fully prepared.
Furthermore, the flu shot itself may cause side effects. Therefore, if your symptoms worsen, your doctor may have difficulty distinguishing between a prior infection and a reaction to the vaccine.
Always consult your doctor if you have a chronic condition or allergies before receiving any vaccine. (Of course, you should take your health history into consideration before getting any vaccine.)
Once you’re feeling better, it’s still wise to get your flu shot.
You won’t want to deal with a sore arm and a gnarly bout of fatigue, but most flu shot side effects (if they occur at all) last for.
Keep in mind that staying up-to-date with all your recommended vaccines, including the new bivalent COVID-19 booster, is only one part of staying healthy during cold and flu season.
In the winter, wearing a mask in public, washing your hands frequently, avoiding people who are sick, and staying at home when you’re sick can go a long way towards keeping you healthy.