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Flu vaccine facts vs. fiction: Does the flu shot really make you sick?

Cutout Photo: ZaldyImg / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 - Pixabay

Medical investigator Vit Kraushaar is with the Southern Nevada Health District. He says the myth that the flu shot can give you the flu or make you sick is just that -- a myth.

He says it's impossible to get the flu from the vaccine, and people who get sick following a vaccination were exposed to the illness before getting the flu shot.

"Millions of people get the flu vaccine. It’s been given for decades. It’s a very safe medication.” Kraushaar said.

However, on Nov. 30, News 3’s Gabby Hart reported on Shane Morgan, a 46-year-old las Vegas man developed a serious disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome also known as GBS just 36 hours after receiving the flu vaccine.

The link between GBS and the flu shot is no myth. The CDC confirms it, but health experts say it's extremely rare.

The CDC also says catching the actual flu virus can also trigger the disorder.

"I think something like Guillain-Barre syndrome, it's very rare and it sounds very scary, and if it happens to you it's devastating..." Kraushaar said.

He added, "But it's much more likely that you're going to get the flu and that you're going to have a serious complication from the flu itself.”

Still, Shane Morgan’s story sent social media into a frenzy -- garnering millions of views and thousands of comments. Many online questioned whether flu vaccine injuries are rare or just under-reported.

The CDC’s vaccine adverse event reporting system, also known as VAERS, tracks vaccine injuries.

However, there isn't a clear cut answer if reporting vaccine injuries is mandatory or not.

"I actually don't know whether it's mandated or not." Kraushaar said.

According to the CDC, patients and doctors can report a complication to VAERS, but it doesn't say they have to.

The CDC also notes that one of the limitations of VAERS is reporting biases, such as under-reporting and stimulated reporting from media coverage.

Krawshaar said despite the risks, people need to remember the flu virus itself kills thousands of people every year and the vaccine is saving lives.

"The statistics are pretty sobering, the fact that 80,000 people died last year from the flu. If that were another disease aside from influenza, people would be up in arms and doing everything to prevent it," he said.

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