MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. But many people have seen ads for the shot as early as August.
So, when is the best time to get the flu vaccine? Good Question.
“It depends,” says Patsy Stinchfield, nurse practitioner with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “It depends on how old you are.”
Stinchfield says older people in the late 60s, 70s and 80s should wait until late October. Older people tend to lose their vaccine protection more quickly because their immune systems aren’t as strong.
“If they wait a bit, they’ll be covered through the typical peak, which is January,” she says.
Stinchfield is on the Flu Vaccine Working Group at the Centers for Disease Control and says this question has been a topic of discussion. She got her shot last week.
The recommendation by Children’s Minnesota for younger adults and children is to get the shot as soon as it becomes available. For some children who go to the doctor’s office for their back-to-school check-up, that’s as early as August.
“If August is your only time for back to school physical or whatever and that’s the only time to get into healthcare, it’s better to get it early than not at all,” Stinchfield says.
She says the CDC hasn’t seen late season outbreaks of influenza in children who are vaccinated at back-to-school time.
Some studies show the vaccine protection will last throughout the season and even have some measurable amounts in the beginning of the following season. Other studies show a drop-off in protection by the end of the season.
It takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu.
“The hard part is we don’t have a crystal ball so we can’t say I’m going to get my vaccine two weeks before this date,” Stinchfield says. “Mostly just try to get it done before Halloween.”