When we started giving out flu shots the second week in September, some people said, “That is too early!” But we, with the CDC, beg to differ.
Here’s the inside scoop on why we start so early and why you don’t want to be late to the party!
Yes, you need another flu shot this year
1. Flu viruses are constantly changing and flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the most recent and most commonly circulating viruses.
2. A person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time and yearly vaccination is needed for top-notch protection. This decline could be caused by several factors, including a person’s age, the antigen used in the vaccine, and the person’s health situation (i.e., chronic health conditions that weaken the immune system). That decline in protection could leave some people more vulnerable to infection, illness and possibly serious complications from the same influenza viruses a year after being vaccinated. So, whether or not the vaccine itself has changed from the last year, annual flu vaccination is recommended.
Getting the flu shot ASAP
CDC recommends that people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community. Vaccination before December is best to make sure the antibodies are in place and ready to protect before flu activity is typically at its highest. CDC continues to encourage people to get vaccinated throughout the flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May. In fact, here in Pensacola, we’ve had some cases of the flu as early as September. Over the course of the flu season, many different influenza viruses can circulate at different times and in different places. As long as flu viruses are still spreading in the community, vaccination can be beneficial.
When does the flu vaccine kick in?
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way.