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When Is the Best Time to Get a Flu Vaccine?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that individuals receive an influenza vaccine—also known as a flu shot—each year by the end of October to prepare for the oncoming flu season. Because influenza is a virus, it is constantly mutating, and so it is important to get the flu vaccine each year to protect against the new variants.
Who Should Get a Flu Vaccine?
It is advised that everyone six months and older should receive the flu vaccine each year. However, there are some groups of people that should be prioritized. These groups include:
- Children between the ages of 6-months and 4-years
- Adults older than 50 years old
- Those with a history of asthma, hypertension, diabetes
- Those who are immunosuppressed due to medications or infection
- Those who are pregnant or will become pregnant during the flu season
In addition to this list, the CDC also recommends that healthcare workers, individuals who work with children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 50, and caregivers of individuals with advanced medical conditions receive the flu vaccine to prevent the spread of the flu to those around them.
Who Should Not Get a Flu Vaccine?
Individuals who have had severe allergic reactions to the flu vaccine, or any ingredients used in the influenza vaccine, should not receive the flu vaccine. A person should speak with his/her primary care physician if he/she has any questions regarding the flu vaccine and any potential risk based on his/her personal medical history.
Who Should Talk to Their Health Care Provider Before Getting a Flu Vaccine?
It is recommended that individuals with the following health conditions talk with their primary care physician when deciding whether to receive the flu vaccine:
- A severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the flu vaccine
- An allergy to eggs or any of the ingredients used in the flu vaccine
- A current or prior diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)
- A recent illness that may present complications alongside the flu vaccine
Flu Activity in My Community Is Low Right Now. Should I Wait to Get My Flu Vaccine?
Though flu activity may seem low, it can always begin spreading rapidly at any moment. Getting the flu vaccine when it is available gives your body time to develop the antibodies needed to protect against the flu. This can usually take about two weeks, which is why it is recommended that individuals receive the flu vaccine by the end of October, regardless of the flu activity around them.
Learn more about the influenza virus by reading FAQs About Influenza with Dr. Mark Povroznik, Part 1.