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VERIFY: Is there a prime time to get the flu shot?

Flu season is here and you're probably seeing a lot of advertisements about how and when to get your flu shot.

ATLANTA — Flu season is here and you're probably seeing a lot of advertisements about how and when to get your flu shot. But is there a time to get the vaccine for prime protection? 

Our 11Alive Verify team took a closer look after seeing tweets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommended getting a flu vaccine by Halloween for best protection.

VERIFY: Is there a prime time to get the flu shot? 

"Anytime you get the flu shot, it's going to be better than not getting the flu shot," 11Alive Medical Correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy, said. "But there really is no deadline. "Flu season runs approximately from October to May so the sooner you get your flu shot, the sooner you're protected."

In spite of the October 31 recommendation, the CDC's website says peak and end of flu season varies year to year. 

"Because the timing of the onset, peak and end of flu seasons varies from year to year and cannot be predicted, it is difficult to say when is the best time to be vaccinated for any one season," the website said. "In trying to balance the need to get many people vaccinated before flu activity begins with concerns about potential waning of vaccine-induced immunity during the flu season, CDC and ACIP recommend that vaccination be offered by the end of October." 

While the CDC's post indicates it's hard to pinpoint the best time to be vaccinated, Dr. Reddy says our neighbors in the southern hemisphere offer a look at what could be coming our way.

"In Australia, they had an early and pretty bad flu season so if we look at that data, we may have the same type of flu season so if we're expecting an earlier peak of the flu," Dr. Reddy said. "The earlier you get it, the better."

To verify, there's no 'best time' to be vaccinated though experts say earlier is better. However, the CDC says a later vaccination still can have benefits, which is why you'll see the vaccine offered at pharmacies and doctors' offices throughout the flu season.

But know that if you do opt for your flu shot, it does take some time after your vaccination for antibodies to get to work.

"It takes about two weeks from the time you get your flu vaccine to be protected against the flu," Dr. Reddy said. "It is possible to get the flu even if you've been vaccinated but we know if you do get the flu after receiving the vaccine, you have a much milder case."


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