CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza. Flu vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.
You should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community, and it takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body.
But is it possible to get your flu vaccine TOO early?
According to the CDC, the optimal time for flu vaccination is by the end of October. Some data indicates that early vaccination (ex. August) may be too early since influenza season peaks later in the year. With the typical peak flu season being December-February and flu vaccine protection declining within weeks, a vaccination in August or early September may leave you vulnerable during peak influenza season.
Study: Flu vaccine protection starts to decline within weeks.
A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggests that vaccine effectiveness may begin dropping within weeks of administration, adding more evidence of declining protection over the course of a single flu season.
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Northern California showed that the risk of contracting the flu climbs about 16% for every 28 days after vaccination. In layman’s terms, an early vaccinator is roughly twice as likely to catch a flu strain at the end of the season than someone vaccinated during the peak of flu season.
It is important to note that it’s never too late to get your flu shot. Even though it takes two weeks to be fully inoculated, getting a shot even a day before you’re exposed to the virus offers you some protection — which means it also offers some protection to those around you who are more vulnerable.
Bottom line… You only get one shot per flu season, so make it the right time to give you the right protection!