Tuesday, February 4, 2020

I Got My Shot; Why Am I Sick? Physicians Answer Why

Editor's Note: This video is part of a monthly Texas Medical Association series highlighting infectious diseases that childhood and adult vaccinations can prevent. MeAndMyDoctor.com posts a video about a different disease/public health issue each month. Some of the recent topics featured include how people in vaccinated communities can protect each other from disease, addressing the autism myth, how vaccines work, and why to vaccinate before and during pregnancy. Previously we featured posts on FluMeaslesPneumococcal diseaseHuman papillomavirus (HPV)Chickenpox and shinglesPertussis (whooping cough), Hepatitis ARubella (also known as German measles), RotavirusPolioMumpsTetanusHepatitis B, and Meningococcal BDiphtheria, and pregnancy and vaccines.

TMA designed the series to inform people of the facts about these diseases and to help them understand the benefits of vaccinations to prevent illness. Visit the TMA website to see news releases and more information about these diseases, as well as physicians' efforts to raise immunization awareness.

Video: I Got My Shot (Vaccine), So Why Did I Get Sick?


Vaccines are the best form of protection from infectious diseases. However, sometimes vaccinated people still get sick, causing them to wonder why. According to physicians, there are several factors that go into how well a vaccine protects an individual.

Most vaccinations have high rates of effectiveness, meaning greater than 90% protection. Others, like the vaccine against influenza, are less predictable. Austin internist, pediatrician, and infectious disease specialist David L. Lakey, MD, says developing a flu vaccine is an imperfect process– for valid reasons.

"Every year the [flu] virus changes, and scientists in laboratories have to try to figure out what the next strain of influenza will be, make the most educated guess, put those strains into the vaccine –  and sometimes it’s not a perfect match,” said Dr. Lakey, who serves on TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health. 

People with specific medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer have a harder time fighting diseases and are a higher risk of developing severe complications. Older people are also more prone to getting sick.

Adults are strongly advised to keep up with vaccinations because their immunity built up from childhood vaccines diminishes – a concept called waning immunity.

People who come down with the flu can experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue, and vomiting. The longer influenza is left untreated, the greater the risk for complications like pneumonia – or even death.

The flu shot can reduce those symptoms even if people get sick. The shot can prevent people from getting so sick they have to go to the hospital.

Dr. Lakey stresses that when more people get vaccinated, society is better protected from preventive diseases like influenza. So-called community immunity "can decrease the number of people that are transmitting the virus and decrease the number of individuals that are going to infect me, my family, your family, from that circulating virus."

That’s another reason to get your shots; not only to protect yourself, but to help protect others around you who might be defenseless.

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