It IS possible to get a FLU SHOT too early?

September 10, 2018 by Miller Admin


As with any vaccine, patients will have many questions. Influenza is one of the most commonly administered vaccines, but people rarely ask the most important question, when should I get my flu shot? One theory is that the earlier you get it the better. The reason for this is something called the herd effect, the idea being that the more people who are vaccinated before the flu arrives the more the general population will be protected and there will be fewer cases to pass on to other people.

The chain stores have made an active business out of this by competing to administer as many doses as possible as early as possible. The problem is that the vaccine may last only 6 months! I have observed a Spring flu epidemic every year and the people affected were often those who got the vaccine in late summer or early Fall and whose protection had waned.

So when is the best time to get a flu shot? While the research continues to be mixed, a good rule of thumb to ensuring your best chance at immunity that lasts through the entire flu season is to get your flu shot between Halloween (October 31st) and Thanksgiving. The non-preserved flu vaccine we use gives immunity to 4 strains of the flu for about six months. The average flu season lasts through February/March. There is no appointment necessary at Millers. Come in to the Pharmacy for your flu shot on Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 9-5pm and Tuesday or Thursday from 12-8pm.

It is recommended that older patients or those with certain medical conditions get their flu shot whenever their Doctor recommends it. For those people who chose not to be vaccinated understand that it takes about 2 weeks for a flu vaccination to impart immunity. Do your homework! The Center for Disease control will publish information about the virility (severity) of this year’s strain of the flu and how well the current vaccine matches up against the actual flu. There are many strains of the flu and most vaccines will cover only the 4 voted most likely to strike this year.

If you get the flu, call your Doctor and follow medical advice. Generally this involves rest and drinking plenty of water. There are prescription drugs to treat the more severe cases and there are also homeopathic products for prevention and Oscillococcinum, which can reduce the number of days of suffering if administered very early after the onset of symptoms.

So be well this flu season and remember, wash your hands with soap and hot water!!! That may be the simplest basic prevention of all. -David Miller

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