Flu Shots: When Is the Best Time To Get One

The flu is a highly contagious airborne virus. The influenza virus is constantly changing and therefore annual flu shots are recommended. While the virus comes in two forms, Influenza A or Influenza B, there are always multiple strains in circulation at a time. The flu season runs from October to February, and the body takes a couple weeks post-vaccination to develop the necessary antibodies to fight the infection. The best time to get the vaccination is early Fall at the beginning of flu season.

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Does everyone need a flu shot?

Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to the flu virus. Infants under the age of 6 months are not eligible for the flu shot. Individuals with an allergy to eggs need to consult with their physician prior to getting the influenza vaccination.

How is the vaccine administered?

The flu vaccine is administered in two ways: a shot in the arm/leg or a nasal spray. Most patients will be given the shot form of the vaccinations. Consulting a medical professional is best when deciding what form of administration is recommended.

Are there any risks to getting a flu shot?

As with any medication, including vaccines, there is a chance of reactions. Often there are mild symptoms that go away, but serious reactions are also possible. Most people who get a flu shot do not have any problems with it. Minor problems following a flu shot include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Hoarseness
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1 or 2 days.

Where is the best place to get vaccinated?

Flu shots are offered everywhere from doctor’s offices to university health centers, most pharmacies, and even the local schools. Visit the Vaccine Finder to find a place nearby that is offering the vaccine. There are options for everyone! The earlier someone is vaccinated against the flu, the lower the chances of contracting the flu virus. Most people study, work, and live in close proximity to other individuals making spreading the flu so easy. Flu season lasts about 5 months (October to February) and the best time to get the flu shot is right before the season starts.

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