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Is It Too Early For A Flu Shot?


How can you tell summer is over? Pharmacies are pushing flu shots.

Yes, it's that no-so-wonderful time of the year when we're reminded that flu season is just around the corner and we all need a vaccination.

But at least one doctor is advising his patients to wait a bit.

USA Today reports that Tennessee doctor Scott Major doesn't plan to start urging his patients to get the shots until later this month or early October. The family practitioner worries that the immunity from the vaccination will peak before flu season does, in late January or early February.

Flu immunity begins to kick in about two weeks after getting the shot, so getting vaccinated in late September or early October will provide maximum protection for when flu season starts around November. "It is incredibly rare to see the flu before October," Major said in an interview.

But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks waiting is a bad idea, especially for vulnerable groups like older adults. They want people to get vaccinated as soon as possible and not procrastinate.

"Vaccination can begin as soon as vaccine becomes available," the CDC advises on its website. Because it takes two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies to develop, people are at risk for getting the flu during that time. "That's why it's better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets underway," the CDC advises.

This year's flu vaccine protects against the  H1N1 virus (swine flu) that caused the worldwide pandemic last year, as well as two other strains of influenza that experts predict will be most common this year.

This season, there will be three different flu shots available: a new, small-needle intradermal flu shot that is injected into the skin, instead of the muscle, for those 18 to 64; a regular flu shot for those six months and older; and a high-dose flu shot for people 65 and older.

Getting vaccinated is important, not only to protect yourself, but also those around you, says the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat. "Influenza is serious, and anyone, including healthy people, can get the flu and spread the flu."


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