A lot of people think that because flu season typically starts in November, they should wait until October to get their flu shot so that immunity will peak when the flu season does. The truth is, there’s no good reason to wait. Generally speaking, protection provided by the influenza vaccine will last the duration of the current flu season. And there are advantages to being vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.
Avoid the Lines
Last year, as the flu continued to spread and more and more people started getting sick, those who had delayed vaccination went to local doctor’s offices, clinics, and pharmacies to be vaccinated, which meant long lines and lots of waiting. Getting your flu shot early means you will be avoiding most of the wait you would likely experience if you put it off. And flu seasons in the past have started as early as August and as late as April!
Give it a Chance to Work
Here’s something you might not know about the flu vaccine: It doesn’t immediately start working. In fact, it typically takes about two weeks or more for your body to reap the full benefits. If this flu season is anything like last year’s high-severity season, think of how many potentially infected people you might come into contact with between the time you were vaccinated and the period when that vaccine reaches is full protective potential. Getting your flu shot early just means you have earlier protection, which, in many cases, means a higher probability of prevention. Early vaccination of children younger than 9 who need two doses of vaccine can be helpful in assuring routine second doses are given before the influenza season begins.
Who Can be Vaccinated Now?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for everyone six months and older. Babies less than 6 months should be protected by having everyone in the family vaccinated.
Some people are at a higher risk for complications from the flu and these people should definitely not skip out on their shots this year. Those groups include:
- Pregnant women
- Kids younger than 3 years old
- People 65 or older
- People who have had any form of long-term health condition
There are different types of vaccines available depending on your age and health. For kids, FluMist is back after being unavailable for two years and can avoid some of the stress of bringing in your little one for a shot.
Dr. Nuruddin is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center. Her clinical interests include diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, depression, women's health, and geriatrics.