Getting the flu isn’t very uncommon and is definitely not ideal. Maybe you’re wondering when to get the flu shot, or how to avoid contracting the flu in general. As the symptoms can be extreme, taking preventative measures—like getting your flu shot—can be really beneficial. 

When getting the flu shot, you’re doing more than just avoiding the unpleasant symptoms. You’re also helping to keep those around you safe who may not be able to fight off the flu as easily. You could save them from a potentially life-threatening infection.

This 2021-2022 flu season especially, it’s vital to think about others, and not only yourself, if deciding when to get the flu shot.

The Flu Explained

As said by Gred Poland, MD, the director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota,  “People can be out of work for a week or two and they can get pneumonia or other serious illnesses, like ear infections and bronchitis,” it can be especially dangerous for younger, or more elderly patients.

The flu vaccine has been proven to reduce the risk of illness from the flu, or even hospitalization and death, according to the CDC

During the flu season of 2019, the flu vaccines were estimated to have prevented 7.52 million cases.

Not only does getting the flu shot this fall help reduce your risk of getting the flu, but it helps others who have more scarce healthcare resources, or who don’t have the option to get the flu shot.

So if you’re thinking about skipping out on the flu shot this year, think twice. As this season, we’ll help you know when to get your vaccine, and how COVID-19 may affect your ability to get the flu shot.

When is the best time to get the flu shot?

The flu shot is available before you may think. You can visit Utah Family Pharmacy and get the flu shot here September – October.  

So, when is the best time to get the flu shot? Better late than never, and right now through October is the perfect time! 

This is because it decreases the risk of the vaccine wearing off before flu season peaks. Also, it’s best to get the vaccine early, rather than not at all.

Though it may feel alarming to get your flu shot right away, it can really save you from a few horrible weeks, or even more serious illness and hospital time in the future. People tend to put it off for too long and end up forgetting to get the flu shot at all.

They’ll wait until they see others getting the flu, or the flu shot and by that point, it could be too late to receive it. Don’t wait!

Will COVID-19 impact when to get my flu shot this year?

Yes and no. In terms of when you should get your flu shot, the advice remains the same. 

Similarly, if you’ve been sick with COVID-19, wait until you’ve recovered from COVID-19 before getting a flu vaccine, advises the CDC. But you will still need the flu shot, since having COVID is not protective against influenza.

Despite hopeful thoughts of COVID-19 cases decreasing, the availability of effective vaccines, and the new Delta variant coming to light, COVID-19 isn’t quite over. So, with a new spike in cases arising, we are heading towards a season of the flu and COVID-19 spreading at the same time.

Bringing additional worry because the flu season in 2020-2021 was very low in cases due to preventative measures such as wearing a mask and social distancing, this year’s flu cases are projected to be higher in numbers. There is some speculation that the upcoming flu season will be more severe, reports NBC News. (There were an estimated 38 million cases of the flu in 2019-2020.)

How does the flu shot work? 

The flu shot takes two weeks to incubate and to build the virus-fighting antibodies in the human body, says Keri Peterson, MD, an internal medicine doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and medical advisor to Women’s Health. 

Meaning a person isn’t fully protected from the virus for a full 14 days after they receive the flu shot. So any flu-infected person could pass the flu on to you and your vaccine won’t be prepared to stop you from getting sick before then.

This doesn’t mean you should skip getting the flu shot if you feel like you’ve waited until too late in the season. It can still protect you for up to 6 months.

The CDC does note that getting a flu shot far in advance of the season, around July or August, is too early, especially for older folks. So you (and your parents! Spread the word) should ideally go in sometime in September or October, and then you can feel confident that you’ll be protected for more of the season. 

Even if you think you missed your window to get the flu shot, “The majority of flu outbreaks in the U.S. happen between February and March,” Dr. Poland says, so getting a vaccine after the holidays isn’t pointless by any means. 

Who should get the flu shot?

Everyone older than six months should be getting their flu shot—that includes pregnant women. “Especially pregnant women,” Dr. Poland says. “The influenza vaccine will help to protect their developing baby.”

Can you still get the flu after getting the flu shot? 

If you do get the flu shot, it’s not a full guarantee that it’ll keep you from contracting the flu. This is because the virus is known to mutate and change over time. That means that the flu shot you get could still protect you from different flu strains. If you come across a different strain, you can still get sick.

For example, “In 2000, we had exactly the right combination of flu strains in the vaccine,” Dr. Poland says. “Then, out of nowhere, in November, there was a new strain, and people had no protection.” 

In short, having some form of protection against the flu is far better than none. As there are various types of the influenza virus going around, it’s a great idea to protect yourself against as many as possible.

When is the flu season for 2021-2022?

As the flu isn’t always predictable, it tends to thrive during colder months. When temperatures all over begin to drop for the winter seasons, that’s typically when you can expect the flu season to begin.

We expect flu season to pick up around October, peaking in December and running through at least February. Sometimes even lasting until May. 

So, if you’re asking yourself when to get the flu shot, or if to get the flu shot at all, our suggestion is to schedule your flu shot now! Or at least put a reminder on your calendar in the future. For your own health’s sake, as well as the sake of others.

Contact Utah Family Pharmacy today and schedule your flu shot!