Should You Get A Flu Shot When You're Sick? This Is What The CDC Recommends

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There is always a lot of controversy surrounding the flu shot. Many feel that the shot, which contains an inactive dose of influenza to help the immune system create antibodies to fight off the infection, is actually ineffective. Some believe that it can be too harmful to be worth it, while others think that it's just going to make them sick. Then there is the whole host of people, which includes many doctors and the CDC, who urge everyone to get a flu shot every single year in order to prevent the illness from spreading. Whichever side you're on, it's always important to know all of the facts out there, including things like why you shouldn't get the flu shot if you're sick already.

If you're wondering why you need to think about this in August, when it's still technically summer for at least another month, and it is decidedly not flu season just yet, the answer is simple: flu season begins in October, which is much sooner than it seems. Plus, the flu doesn't discriminate, and you can really get it at any time of the year.

So what happens if you schedule a flu shot, and the date comes around, and you're already sick with something else? Should you still go through with it, or should you wait? Many say to wait until you're healthier, especially if you're dealing with a moderate to severe illness. According to one doctor, that's because it's easy to confuse the symptoms of your illness with side effects from the vaccine, which could be frustrating and lead to you treating the effects the wrong way.

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That's not the only reason to put the shot on hold until your illness goes away — if you're really sick, it may not be as effective. The flu vaccine triggers an immune response in your body, prompting your immune system to develop antibodies to fight off the influenza virus. If you're already sick, your immune system is already hard to work fighting off your current illness. You're just giving it more to do, and it might not be able to do both jobs as effectively. It could be harder for your body to develop the antibodies against the flu, or it could end up making it harder for your body to fight against your present illness.

Either way, it's not ideal. You don't want to get a flu shot just to still get the flu later on — that's literally the opposite of what you're going for. And you don't want to make your recovery time of your current illness longer, because that's just uncomfortable.

While doctors recommend not getting the flu shot if you're very sick or if you have a fever, they agree it's probably fine to go through with it if you have a simple cold. According to Healthline, there's nothing wrong with getting a flu shot when you have a cold. The only time you should really reschedule it is if your symptoms are more severe.