Right now, in late October, is the best time to get your flu vaccination.
The campaign to get flu shots begins as early as August, but that may not be the best time to get them because the effectiveness of the vaccine declines over time and by the time the flu season is at its peak, usually during January and February, you may have lost some or all of the immunity. If you already received your flu shot in August or September there isn’t much you can do except to remember this advice for next year.
It has been found in a study done by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that getting vaccinated later in October, like now, could give you better protection through the peak of the flu season.
In a study done in 2017 by the CDC, their researchers looked at data that covered four recent flu seasons to determine whether and when the flu vaccine begins to lose its effectiveness. Another US study in 2018 looked at seven years of data and studies done in the UK and Spain in 2011-2012 also showed a drop-off in the effectiveness of the flu vaccine after a few months.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says that there is no real benefit to getting vaccinated twice in a season and their current advice is to get vaccinated by the end of October.
People who are particularly vulnerable to influenza are the elderly, pregnant women, young children and people who have compromised immune systems. According to the CDC, 80% of pediatric deaths happen in unvaccinated children during the 2017-2018 flu season.
The CDC recommends treatment of the flu by getting a lot of rest and not infecting others. However, people in the high risk groups as aforementioned may need to have immediate medical assistance and take antiviral medication like the Tamiflu.
There are other ways, even simpler things you can do, to lower and help prevent your risk of getting the flu or spreading it to other people. Those things include good old-fashioned hand-washing with soap and warm water for at least three to five minutes. Then it helps to cover your mouth when you cough, coughing into your bent elbow. And last but not least, stay at home if you are sick. Don’t go to work or school and spread the flu to others.