Can You Get a Flu Shot With a Fever?

Woman getting a vaccine.
Can you get a flu shot if you are sick?. Pamela Moore/E+/Getty Images

Flu shots are recommended for nearly everyone and are the best way to prevent the flu, but what if you make your appointment and then start running a fever when it's time to get the vaccine? Should you get it anyway? Or reschedule the appointment?

What Should You Do?

Depending on your temperature and your other symptoms, you may still be able to get your flu vaccine.

When to Wait

If you have a fever over 101 degrees F or you are very ill, the CDC recommends waiting until your fever has returned to normal and you feel better before being vaccinated.

The reason for delaying the shot is pretty simple. If you are already sick, your body's immune system is working hard to fight off the germs that are making you sick. When you get a vaccine, the immune system develops antibodies against the illness that vaccine is designed to protect you from (in this case, the flu). But if you are already sick and your immune system is trying to fight off another illness, it may not be able to develop the antibodies to the vaccine-preventable illness as easily. This means it is possible that it could take you longer to recover from your illness or the vaccine may not be as effective as it would have been otherwise.

When to Get the Flu Shot

If you have a mild temperature of 99 or 100 degrees F and no serious symptoms, there is no reason to hold off on getting your flu shot. These temperatures are not truly considered a fever and if you are not dealing with a moderate to severe illness, you should have no problem with the vaccine.

Your health care provider, nurse or pharmacist that is administering the flu vaccine should ask you if you have a fever or are sick before giving it. However, if they do not, be sure to speak up or cancel your appointment if you are sick when it's time to get your vaccine.

Other Reasons Not to Get a Flu Shot

Other than being sick and running a fever, there are a few other reasons you should not get a flu shot. These include:

  • History of a severe allergic reaction to a previous flu vaccine.
  • Severe egg allergy (those with a mild egg allergy involving only hives may be able to get the vaccine - talk to your health care provider)
  • Babies under 6 months old
  • History of Guillain-Barre syndrome after receiving a previous flu vaccine. If you have had Guillain-Barre syndrome, talk to your health care provider to determine whether or not you should get the flu shot.

Although the vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months old, there are certain groups of people that are considered to be at high risk for flu complications and should be vaccinated if at all possible. If you live with or care for someone in a high risk group, it is equally important for you to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of spreading the flu.

If you have any concerns or are not sure if the flu vaccine is right for you or your family, talk to your health care provider.


Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 19 Sep 13. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 22 Sep 13.

Vaccine Effectiveness - How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work? Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 13 Mar 13. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 22 Sep 13.

Continue Reading