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People Demand to Know When to Get A Flu Shot!

You are no doubt being urged to get a flu shot RIGHT NOW! When is the best time to be vaccinated for maximum protection?
Woman getting flu shot

OK, we screwed up big time! Lots of visitors to this website let us know in no uncertain terms that we did not adequately answer the questions we posed in a recent article: “Should You Get Your Flu Shot Now? How Well Will It Work?” 

Lots of people wanted to know precisely when to get a flu shot. Others were mad that we were not more enthusiastic and encouraging about getting vaccinated. Last year’s vaccine was only 29% effective. Read the details here

Our suggestion that each individual would have to make his or her own decision about a flu shot went over like a lead balloon. We have attempted to answer some of the most frequent questions below.

How Would You Know When to Get a Flu Shot?

Q. What is the best vaccine strategy for maximum protection during the flu season? Is the flu worse early in the season or later? How quickly does the shot become effective? How long does it last?

My pharmacy is urging customers to let them give you your flu shot right now! I worry that the benefits might fade before the peak flu season is over in January or February.

An Answer to the Q: When to Get a Flu Shot:

A. Influenza is highly variable. There is no way to predict when it will hit, how long it will last or when it will be most virulent.

Last year’s flu season persisted for over five months. The nasty H3N2 virus struck late in the season—from mid-February through mid-May. The vaccine did not work well against this strain of influenza.

As for timing, the CDC states that:

“Vaccinating early – for example, in July or August –may lead to reduced protection against influenza later in the season, particularly among older adults.”

The CDC recommends that most people get vaccinated by the end of October. It takes about two weeks for your body to make antibodies against influenza viruses. That means that this would be a very good time to get your flu shot if you are planning to do so.

Readers Comment on When to Get a Flu Shot:

Virginia says even a little protection is worthwhile:

“Some protection is better than none! One day of the flu is too much so I appreciate every little bit of decreased symptoms. Medicine is an art not a science.”

Dzrlib offers this comment:

“I am 84 years old and have never had a flu shot. I think it’s because I take 3 to 4 grams of crystalline Vitamin C every day, dissolved in tomato juice. Been doing this for over 40 years.”

Phyllis trusts the vaccine:

“I’ve been so lucky. I’ve been taking flu shots for 30 years or more. I only had a mild case of flu one time. That was around the second or third time I took it. I would never hesitate to take my flu shot. I’m now 76 years old and trust the shots.”

iMedical Consensus Advisory

Infectious disease experts emphasize that vaccination offers the best protection against influenza. Though it isn't perfect, they urge people at risk for flu (most of us) to get a flu shot between the middle of October and early November.

Chris delayed his shot and won’t do it again!

“I’m 71. Two years ago, I put off getting my flu shot because I read that seniors should wait until December so they’d have better protection in February. I got the flu the day before I was scheduled for my shot and was horribly sick for a month.

“From now on, I will get my flu shot in October or early November. In years I’ve gotten a timely flu shot, I have never had the flu.”

Shirley’s husband got the flu even though he got the shot:

“We are seniors and got the stronger dose of the flu vaccine last fall. My husband got the flu in late January and was knocked out for at least two weeks. He was in bed and didn’t eat much the first week. I managed to stay far enough away from him that I didn’t get it.”

What About Colds?

You may find our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu of interest. In it we discuss vaccines as well as nondrug cold strategies with vitamins C and D, astragalus, ginger and thyme.

You may also find our one-hour podcast of interest:

Show 1057: How Can You Improve Your Immune Response

This free one-hour interview with Tieraona Low Dog, MD, will provide practical information about improving immunity to respiratory viruses. You can stream the audio by clicking on the green arrow below Dr. Low Dog’s photo. You can download the free mp3 file by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on “Download the mp3” just above “View Comments.” 

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I have not had a flu shot for 6 years and never got the flu. Also, in my opinion, vaccines have higher risks than benefits, and I just don’t trust it.

I have been taking flu shots for nearly all my 77 years & only contracted the disease once about 3 years ago. Neither my doc nor I thought that was what I had, but she tested me for it to be sure, & it was. I was sick as a dog, first time in my life I ever lost my appetite. And it was in one of the warmer months, not during regular flu season. Still, I believe in getting vaccinated & get the high dose for old people. Always get mine at health department early in October.

The two times I missed getting a flu shot in the past 20 years or so, I got the flu and was extremely ill. The flu shots are great for me.

I am 77 years old and have never had a cold or the flu. Never have had a flu shot either. See no reason for a flu shot now. My husband takes the shot each year. I just stay out of doctors’ offices and crowds.

I have never had a cold or flu in my adult life. (I am 78) I assume I may have had a cold in my younger years but I do not remember have done so. I cannot imagine why I would want to expose my body to a shot that is administering LAST YEAR’s anti-flu meds.
So I pass. . .

I have never had a flu shot but I do take several vitamins, including vitamins C and D. I have a relative who developed Bell’s Palsy after taking the ‘Swine flu’ shot several years ago. Another relative only seems to get the flu if he has had a flu shot. I’m very leery, for good reason. It’s definitely not a “one size fits all” situation.

I guess I fall under the category you mentioned : do what’s best for you. That’s what I do on ALL matters concerning my health and my body. I take a very holistic approach to my health, using essential oils and natural methods of battling a cold/flu. And I haven’t been remotely sick in 6 years since starting this practice. I listen to my body.

However, I really don’t understand the statement from Virginia: medicine is an art, not a science. I’m pretty sure no doctor sanctioned by the AMA got their Liberal Arts degree to practice medicine. Medicine is definitely scientific; however, it is each of us that is different. We all respond differently to medicine, to personality’s, to the messages you send to your body.

In addition to getting a flu shot, don’t forget to take daily vitamin D (helps against type A flu, which is usually the new strain showing up later and may not be in the flu shot). Calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin K2 work together with vitamin D as well.

I also suggest having elderberry extract available to start in case of flu (fever, headache, aching arms/legs, etc). Elderberry works well for me when started in the 1st 12-24hrs.

Seniors, try to get everyone in your household to take a flu shot to protect you better, and consider getting some dietary zinc daily (pumpkin seeds would be a great choice) to reduce your risk of pneumonia over the winter?

I think I knew most of the information in this article from reading about flu shots in the past but it is good to see it all together. You may want to publish a variation on this article every year. My only complaint is the picture at the top of the article. I graduated from nursing school in 1970, and I have never held a syringe like that to give an IM injection.

I do not understand that when given the information found on this site people still have so much faith in the flu shot. Even thinking about having that untested vaccine, loaded with what ever else they see fit to include, injected into my arm makes me shudder. Eating right and taking supplements that work seems far safer. Works just as well if not better, and will not cause the flu.
Oh, well…

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