ZocdocAnswersShould I get a preventive medicine consultation before receiving a flu shot?

Question

Should I get a preventive medicine consultation before receiving a flu shot?

Will I feel sick afterwards?

Answer

Generally a consultation is not something that is necessary before a flu shot. Millions of individuals each year receive a flu shot and do not need further evaluation for it. However, you should know that you may feel a bit under the weather for a day or so afterwards. This is because in order to vaccinate your body, the flu shot presents a weakened version of the virus to your immune system so that it can recognize it in the future and mount a strong response once it detects that normal version of the virus. Thus the body releases a number of inflammatory mediators into the body after a flu shot in much the same way as it would for a true infection. In short, you are trading a day of feeling a little sick for the potential of avoiding many days of feeling VERY sick, not to mention passing it on to others. That said, there are plenty of people who have little to no reaction the the flu shot in terms of symptoms, so it's basically the luck of the draw as to which kind of responder you will be. As a physician, I would strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor about getting the flu shot. For most, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.