When should I get my flu shot?

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The question of 'When should I get my flu shot?' is as annual as the flu season itself.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that deaths attributed to the flu during the 2017-2018 season topped 80,000.

Getting the season's influenza vaccination is a preventive measure physicians and medical professionals urge people to take.

"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."

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.

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

With the vaccine needing 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.

"That's a great time to get your flu shot, but there's reason to get it at any point of the season," Dr. Ognjan said. "There are a lot of benefits to getting this vaccination."

There's still an advantage to getting it after the start of the flu season has begun, as it's never too late to take steps toward protecting one's self.

And while some might 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.

To make an appointment with a McLaren Macomb physician to get a flu shot, visit mclaren.org/macombappointments.