Time for a flu shot? Maybe. Maybe not.

flu shot photo

I’ve been driving past a sign at my local pharmacy advertising flu shots. It’s been there since August.  But flu season doesn’t start until October.  Is it time for me to get jabbed?  Maybe, but maybe not.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot every year, and get it by the end of October.  The CDC says getting vaccinated later is OK, but keep in mind that it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so you might not be fully protected if you get your shot late and the flu season begins very early.

Should older folks wait longer?

Some doctors are suggesting that people aged 65 and older might be better off waiting a little longer to get a flu shot – until sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  That’s because they believe that the flu vaccine may not last as long in older folks as it does in youngsters.  They point to a study from a few years ago that found a decline in vaccine effectiveness late in flu season for people 65 years and older.

Some new choices this season

The CDC says you have several choices of flu vaccines for this season:

Note that this year a nasal vaccine is NOT recommended.  That’s because the nasal vaccine wasn’t as effective as a flu shot during the last 2 flu seasons.

Flu peaks over the winter

The flu season generally peaks between December and March but it may begin as early as October and may run as late as May.  So, what about that advertising that saw back in August?  In an interview on NPR, an immunologist at the University of Connecticut Center on Aging said that making the vaccine available that early is simply “a marketing scheme.”



About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at Rx411. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years. This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns. He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C.