As the final days of summer come to an end, people across the United States will be getting ready for the colder weather, the holidays, and unfortunately, the peak of flu season. While anyone can catch the flu throughout the year, the influenza is at its peak during November and December.
But, as the world continues to focus on and fight against the coronavirus pandemic (also known as COVID-19), individuals should not forget about the flu and should protect themselves accordingly.
Though some are against getting the flu vaccine, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends people over the age of 6 months old get the seasonal shot. Keep reading to find out more about when you should vaccinate yourself, if August is too early to get the flu shot, and how long the vaccination lasts.
Is August too early for a flu shot?
According to the CDC website: "Getting vaccinated in July or August is too early, especially for older people, because of the likelihood of reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season." The government site recommends people get the flu shot in September and October. However, depending on how long the influenza is circulating (as it is difficult to predict the length of the season), the CDC suggests vaccinations continue throughout the year.
Amid the current coronavirus pandemic, the CDC strongly advises people to get vaccinated. The organization predicts that both the influenza and coronavirus will likely spread throughout flu season (fall / winter). Additionally, the CDC claims that it is possible for an individual to have both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
So, how long does the flu shot last?
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated in September or October because the vaccine will only reportedly last for about six months. According to Healthline.com, it will take two weeks for your body to begin developing antibodies that provide protection against the virus.
A study found that the flu vaccine's effectiveness will decrease every month, so if you get the flu shot early, it could be you are more susceptible to contracting it later in the season (via Healthline.com).
It's important to remember that if you got vaccinated later in the year (February / March), you are no longer covered for the upcoming season. Dr. Frank Esper spoke with Health.com about how flu strains differ every year, explaining that it's important to get vaccinated each season. Adding, "The flu shot is not 100%, [but] it’s there to make sure you don’t die from the flu [or] get hospitalized.”
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading the coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.