Oct. 1, 2022
How to time your flu shot for best protection
After virtually disappearing for two years in the U.S. as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down society, there are hints that the flu could reemerge this fall, potentially causing an unusually early and possibly severe flu season. As a result, many experts are urging people to get their flu shots right away to make sure they are protected. The usual flu season starts in November in the U.S. and peaks in January or February. "In normal years, it makes sense to hold off on the flu shot until late fall, as protection really doesn't last more than a few months and late fall/winter is when the flu wave usually hits here," says Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. "So in a normal year, I would probably try to wait until mid-October and get the flu shot then," he says. But this year, he says, "flu cases are already starting to go up, so it makes sense to get it sooner – i.e., now."