Is It Possible To Get Your Flu Shot Too Soon? Yes

When should I get vaccinated for Influenza?

The start of flu season is still weeks, if not months, away. Yet marketing of the vaccine has become an almost year-round effort that starts when the shots become available in August and is hyped as long as the supply lasts — often into April or May.

Not that long ago, most flu-shot campaigns started as the leaves began to turn in October. But two things have stretched the flu-shot season: the decade-long increase in the number of drugstores that have a retail medical clinic inside, and state laws that allow pharmacists to give vaccinations.

Federal health officials say it’s better to get the shot whenever you can. An early flu shot is better than no flu shot at all. But the science is mixed when it comes to how long you’ll get optimal protection from a flu shot promoted and given during the waning days of summer; the typical flu season peaks in midwinter or beyond. Immunologists and public health officials are divided on how patients should respond to such offers.

So, talk to your doctor, and weigh your options for the timing of that flu shot. The ideal time is between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

If you can’t wait, and the only chance is to get it in September, then go ahead and get it. It’s best to get it early rather than not at all.

*References for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits. Also see the What are the Benefits of Flu Vaccination?[264 KB, 2 pages] fact sheet.

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