Tuesday , April 20 2021

Is it too early to get a flu shot?

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

As you bask in the last weeks of summer, here's something I'm sure you're thinking about: flu shots. They're Already Here – Rite Aid just announced that seasonal flu shots are available at all 2,466 of its pharmacies.

Everyone who is capable should get a flu spread every single year. But should you get one right now? The answer is a bit complicated.

You want to make sure you are vaccinated in advance if the flu comes to your area. But there may be potential drawbacks to getting the vaccine prematurely. According to CDC experts, several studies have shown that flu vaccines decrease efficacy within a flu season. Doctors cannot predict when a flu season will peak, and if it happens late – say in early April – those who received the vaccine in August may have lower levels of protection at the most dangerous time.

An analysis by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that during normal and late flu seasons, waiting for October to get vaccination and even saving hundreds of lives can be a benefit for older adults. The risk is that the flu season may come early, so lead author Dr. Kenneth J. Smith calls it "a balancing act." (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over six months get a flu shot in late October.)

In any scenario, an early flu shot is better than no flu shot, so if the vaccine is available near you now and you think you might not be coming back later, it's best to just get it done. There are also some people who should definitely get the flu shot ASAP, including certain children who will require two doses of the vaccine.

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