No, Two Flu Shots Aren’t Better Than One

Abi Travis - Author

Sep. 24 2020, Updated 3:16 p.m. ET

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By this point, you probably (hopefully) know that it’s important to get a flu vaccine every year if you are able to. First of all, doing so can help protect you from contracting an influenza virus, which is obviously awesome. Nobody likes getting the flu! That’s not the only benefit from getting your flu shot, though. Doing so also contributes to herd immunity, effectively protecting people who are too young, old, or immunocompromised to get the shot themselves, and that’s awesome, too.

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“OK,” we hear you saying (or thinking to yourself). “I’ll get the flu shot because I want to be healthy and to protect my neighbors’ health. In fact, I’ll do ya one better. I’ll get TWO flu shots.” Whoa! Pump the brakes there, friend! Before you head out to your nearest pharmacy, you should know about what happens if you get two flu shots.

what happens if you get two flu shots
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What happens if you get two flu shots?

Unfortunately, getting two flu shots won’t somehow provide you with double protection against the flu — vaccines don’t work like that. That’s why the CDC recommends that most people get a single dose of the vaccine each season.

According to The New York Times, getting a “booster dose” of the flu shot is associated with an increased risk of adverse reactions, including fever, rash, shortness of breath, and pain at the injection site. Those possible reactions may seem very mild (especially when compared to the risks associated with getting the flu), but if getting two doses of the same vaccine doesn’t double your immunity and even slightly increases the risk of adverse reactions, it makes sense to skip the second shot.

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It’s also a good idea to limit handshakes and other forms of physical contact during flu season. (Of course, you should be doing that now anyway because of COVID-19 precautions!)

kids two flu shots
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Some children *should* get two flu shots.

Although a double dose of the flu shot doesn’t have benefits for adults, there are some people who actually should be getting two doses of the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that some children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years actually get two doses of the flu vaccine if it is their first time receiving a flu shot, or if they have only had one dose in the past. 

Obviously, you should check with your child’s health care provider to know for sure whether a double dose is recommended for them. In fact, health professionals are best equipped to answer all of your flu-vaccine-related questions! In short, though: Get a flu shot, wash your hands, and do your best to protect yourself and your fellow humans.

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