Now vs. later: When should I get my flu shot?

getting a flu shot

Every fall, when flu season rolls around, the question always seems to be asked: When is the best time to get the flu shot?

Regardless of the answer of whether to get it now or later, physicians urge everyone to take the preventive step of getting the flu shot and benefiting from the protection it will offer.

“We strongly advocate to our patients to not neglect getting their flu shot,” said Dr. Anthony Ognjan, an infectious diseases specialist at McLaren Macomb. “While there may be an optimal time to get the shot, getting one is always better than foregoing the vaccination.”

When should I get my shot?


Dr. Ognjan recommends getting the vaccine early in the season, by the end of October or the first week of November.

The vaccine needs approximately two weeks to fully develop the antibodies to protect against a viral influenza infection.

Getting a flu shot within that time frame should ensure that the body is protected when the peak of the season hits.

How long will it last?


The flu shot will protect throughout the current flu season, which typically last through the winter and into the beginning of spring in March and April.

Flu vaccinations are seasonal, based on the flu strain researchers forecast for that season, and developed months in advance.

Though some may criticize the shot for not being 100 percent effective against that flu season’s particular strain, Dr. Ognjan and his colleagues still strongly recommend the vaccine, as even partial protection is better than none.

How bad will flu season be this year?


It’s difficult to predict a flu season before it begins to peak.

While it’s not entirely possible to predict when the flu season will peak, historically cases generally spike between the months of December and February.

Last year saw the longest flu season in a decade, sickening 37 million to 43 million people while also being blamed for several thousand deaths.

Get a flu shot this season. Make an appointment online with a McLaren Macomb primary care physician at mclaren.org/macombappointments.