Fighting the flu: Best time to take shot

Posted at 3:26 PM, Sep 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-27 17:26:45-04

Peak flu season is in January, but we're already seeing advertisements for flu shots and have been for weeks. But how early is too early to get a flu shot?


Dan Weaver has a pretty good reason for getting his shot.


"I've had the flu and i don't want to get it again,” Weaver recalls.


Now, he gets it every year, as soon as it's offered at his job.


"Anytime I get it as long as it's before say Thanksgiving-ish when you start seeing more flu cases I think anytime is probably good,” Weaver says.


When it comes to the flu vaccine, timing matters. Even though flu season starts around November, its not uncommon to see signs at retail pharmacies advertising flu shots right now.


Dr. Jean Kutner, Chief Medical Officer at University of Colorado Hospital, says the awareness is good.


“Flu season is not getting longer. We're definitely seeing marketing for shots starting a lot earlier than we used to.”


Still, Kutner says, it presents concerns.


"We don't want people getting the flu vaccine so early that it's maybe not active by the time that the flu actually hits,” Kutner says.


Although she says early is better than never, it's an even bigger concern for the elderly, who have less response to the vaccine and lose it more quickly.


"So for older people a choice of waiting a little bit longer to get their vaccine and waiting until mid-October or even a little later say around Halloween to get their vaccines that would be ideal,” Kutner says.


This year Kutner says the elderly and people with underlying chronic conditions have the option of getting a high risk vaccine.  Also new this flu season, only injectable flu shots are recommended, not nasal sprays, and Kutner says vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.


The Centers for Disease Control says everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October, if possible. However, officials say getting vaccinated throughout flu season, into January or later is okay.