When To Get the Flu Shot

Getting a flu shot is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect yourself and the people around you from the flu, and to help reduce the strain on the healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people contract the influenza virus during ‘flu season,’ which typically lasts from October through March, with most cases peaking in January. The flu poses risks to people of various ages, ranging from the very young, the very old, to those with compromised immune systems.

Here are some things to remember before and after you have your flu shot:

• It takes about 2 weeks for a person to build up antibodies after receiving a flu shot (developing the antibodies to protect them if and when exposed). So, ideally, people should get the flu shot before the end of October.

• Flu shots are typically only effective for about 6 months, after that it starts to weaken and a person could potentially get the flu even after receiving a flu shot. (Unless they receive a booster shot, which is recommended for elderly patients and patients with comorbidities that put them at increased risk, but the general public doesn’t typically get booster flu shots.)

• So, despite the early aggressive marketing by retail pharmacies (because they have the vaccine in stock) if it’s a long flu season (September – March) and a person gets a flu shot in August, they would be protected only until January-February.

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