I have a primary immunodeficiency disorder. Is it OK for me to get a flu shot?

Answers from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.

If you have a primary immunodeficiency disorder, your doctor will recommend that you get a flu shot every year. Primary immunodeficiency disorders weaken the immune system, allowing you to get infections such as influenza more easily.

It’s generally recommended that people with primary immunodeficiency avoid live vaccines, such as the influenza nasal spray. If you have severe immunodeficiency, you could develop an infection from the influenza nasal spray. The flu shot, however, contains killed or inactivated viruses. This means the flu shot can't cause you to get the flu.

Primary immunodeficiency can prevent you from fully responding to the flu shot immunization. As a result, you might not develop full protective immunity. But because you might gain some protective benefits from the flu shot and there’s little downside, it's important to get a flu shot every year.

Everyone in your household should also get immunized against the flu every year. This will make it less likely that a family member will bring the virus into your home, which could cause you to get sick. Family members should also get the flu shot rather than the influenza nasal spray to minimize the risk of exposing you to the flu.

March 29, 2016 See more Expert Answers