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There seems to be conflicting information about the best time to get a flu shot. When is the best time to get a flu shot to maximize my protection?

Current medical recommendations indicate that it’s best to get your flu shot sometime after October 1st.  In particular, patients over the age of 65 may be negatively impacted by getting the flu vaccine too early in the season. The vaccine stimulates our immune systems to create antibodies to fight against influenza. However, those antibodies may have a limited period of effectiveness.  If the vaccine is provided too early in the season, it may lose some of this effectiveness if we experience a late flu season. The flu season typically begins around November or December, with peak activity in January and February. Should there be a slight delay in that pattern, it is possible that the vaccine’s effectiveness may not be as good as it could have been if provided too early in the season, say in August or September.

There seems to be a great deal of “medical marketing” going on by stores like CVS and Walgreens who provide discount coupons or offer to make charitable donations in order to gain your business early in the flu season.  It is always best to seek advice from your primary care physician, pediatrician or at a qualified urgent care center, as there may be some specifics differences in your own personal health status indicating the need for a different vaccination schedule.