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Expert Q&A

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Is it too early to get the flu vaccine?

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My doctor's office started offering this season's flu vaccine in early August. Should I get it now or wait until closer to flu season?

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Living Well Expert Dr. Jennifer Shu Pediatrician,
Children's Medical Group

Expert answer

Thanks for your question. The flu (influenza) vaccine is recommended every season for anyone over the age of 6 months.

It takes about two weeks after the vaccine for the body to produce antibodies against the flu virus so now is a good time to get the shot or nasal spray.

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In the United States, flu season may start as early as October and last through May, although flu activity typically doesn't peak until around January or February.

A flu vaccine is required each year because the strains often change from season to season.

Even if some or all of the strains in the vaccine (which are based on the virus strains expected to be found circulating in the community that season) are the same as you have received in the past, getting another shot or spray each season can help boost your immunity, because the vaccine's effects can wane with time -- usually on the order of several months to years.

If you have more questions about flu vaccines be sure to talk with your doctor or check out the CDC influenza page.

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