When, exactly, should you get the flu shot? It’s not too early, even at the tail end of summer, experts say. And now that we’re in peak flu season, it’s not too late, either, to try to stay flu free. Flu season can start in October and run through April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reach its peak between December and February. And word in these streets is that this season is shaping up to be particularly brutal.
When your local retail clinic reminds you it’s time to get the shot, do it. It takes a couple of weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that keep you from catching the flu, so take steps to get protected now.
You should note, however, that the flu shot’s effectiveness loses strength after a while. Exactly how long your shot will protect you is the subject of much debate in the medical community, with some saying the vaccine offers protection for six to eight months only, and others suggesting that young, healthy people could be safe for an extended time, perhaps years. Some doctors even recommend that folks with a compromised immune system and those older than 65 should have a second dose.
Here’s where everybody agrees: Do get vaccinated, even if you’ve procrastinated until this late in December. Being vaccinated late is better than not being vaccinated at all. And sorry, needle phobes—if you’re younger than 2, age 50 or older, or pregnant, you’ll have to get the shot; these people cannot get the ouchless nasal spray version.