Can I get vaccinated and still get the flu?

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Yes.  It’s possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test).  This is possible for the following reasons:

  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated.  This exposure may result in you becoming ill with the flu before the vaccine begins to protect you.  (About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection develop in the body.)
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine.  There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year.  The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated.  Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated.  In general, the flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children.  Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination.  Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.


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