When’s the best time to get a flu shot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s important to get the flu vaccine before the flu is spreading in your community. After receiving the vaccine, it takes about two weeks for the antibodies in the shot to develop in your body and protect you from the flu.
Therefore, it’s best to get the flu shot at the end of October, before the flu season begins. However, since flu season can last throughout April, getting vaccinated too early (July and August) can reduce your protection later in the year.
How does the flu vaccine protect you from the flu?
After two weeks of receiving the vaccine, your body is able to create antibodies that stimulate your immune system and fight off the virus that was presented in the vaccine.
Each year, a season flu vaccine is developed against the influenza viruses that researchers predict will be the most common in the upcoming season.
There are two reasons you should get the flu shot every year:
- Immune protection from vaccination declines gradually, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection.
- Flu viruses change insistently, therefore, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season.
Who should get a flu shot?
For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.
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Vaccination is even more important for people who are at high risk for flu complications, this includes individuals includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
Different Flu Vaccines
There are several different flu vaccines available:
- Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine: The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in healthy non-pregnant individuals, 2 years through 49 years old. People with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.
- Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine: A quadrivalent influenza (flu) vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses, including two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
- Flu Vaccination by Jet Injector: A jet injector is a medical device used for vaccination that uses a high-pressure, narrow stream of fluid to penetrate the skin instead of a hypodermic needle. Available for people between 18-64 years old.
- Fluzone High-Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine: In the United States, Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is licensed only for persons aged 65 years and older.
How long does the flu shot last?
It's predicted that protection from the flu vaccine lasts for just about 6 months. Protection decreases over time due to the waning of antibody levels.
The season flu vaccine should last the entirety of the flu season.
Protecting yourself from the flu
Aside from getting the flu vaccine, you can also do the following to protect yourself from the flu as well as other infections:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes
- Avoid crowds
- Wear a mask