When is the Best Time to Get a Flu Shot?

time to get a flu shot

Flu season generally runs from October to May, with the peak occurring sometime between December and February. Because it takes a couple of weeks for the flu shot to become fully effective, don’t delay any longer! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that every healthy individual age six months and older get vaccinated. That’s because on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year in the United States for flu-related complications. Of those, thousands die.

Vaccine Protection Differs in the Elderly

Experts acknowledge that they are uncertain how long the vaccine remains effective once administered, especially in people older than age 65. There is generally a reduced response to vaccines as the immune system ages, which means that the elderly may not get as much protection from the flu shot, and its protective effect may wear off faster than it does for young people. This has led to recommendations to wait until later in the season to vaccinate this age group. It has also led to the development of a new vaccine, Fluzone® High-Dose, which has been specially formulated to provide stronger protection against the flu in adults age 65 and older.

Despite suggestions that delaying vaccination may provide better immunity later in the season, the CDC still recommends flu shot clinics for all age groups as soon as the vaccine becomes available in the fall. The concern is that delaying vaccination will lead to many people not being vaccinated at all.

How Vaccine Effectiveness Varies

How well a flu shot works can vary from season to season. Each year, researchers work to determine which strains of flu virus are likely to be most common during the upcoming flu season. The most common strains are then included in the seasonal flu shot. There are multiple factors that determine how well a flu vaccine works in a given season.

  • The age, health and other characteristics of the person being vaccinated.
  • The similarity between the flu viruses circulating in the community and the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against.

While vaccine effectiveness varies, recent studies indicate the flu vaccine reduces the risk of illness by 50-60% on average when the vaccine is well-matched with circulating viruses.

Get Vaccinated* at RediClinic

Flu shots are available at all RediClinic walk-in clinics seven days a week. Make an online appointment to get vaccinated against the flu.

*Vaccines are subject to availability.