What Is The Best Time Of Year To Get A Flu Shot?

Each year, many pharmacies and doctors' offices send out reminders to patients to get their yearly flu shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages a yearly flu vaccine starting at 6 months old to protect oneself and others against the most prevalent influenza virus strains during that years' season. Symptoms of the flu may be mild, but can also range to the more severe including complications such as pneumonia or ear and sinus infections, as well as hospitalization and death.

Questions have been raised amongst the general public regarding the need for both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. William Schaffner of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases told NPR, "We've been concerned about vaccine fatigue and that people will be confused about whether or when they need the flu shot, and not very eager to once again roll up their sleeve." Still, many medical experts agree that the flu is worth safeguarding against through vaccination.

In a recent CNN press release, medical experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, weighed in as to when people should be receiving their flu shot.

It is possible to get a flu shot too early

Although the months in which flu season falls will vary around the world, generally speaking, the CDC says the prime time to receive an influenza vaccine is during either September or October (via CNN). "Vaccination is ... a powerful and important additional tool, and particularly important when we're in the middle of a raging pandemic and when it comes to influenza, a virus that spreads easily and kills tens of thousands of people every year," explained the CDC. Rather than waiting for outbreaks to occur, medical experts emphasize the importance of staying ahead of potential infection.

While sooner is better than later when it comes to flu vaccination, emergency physician and CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said there is such a thing as receiving a vaccine too far in advance. "People who are older, with compromised immune systems, may have waning immunity, and so sometimes are (advised not) to get their flu vaccines too early," Wen explained, adding, "However, 'too early' generally refers to August. October ... is entirely fine for these individuals to get vaccinated."

The CDC reminds those choosing to receive their flu shot that antibodies require two weeks' time to develop within the body and that this timetable should be factored in when deciding when to book their flu shot appointment.