Even as COVID-19 continues to circulate, flu is lurking in the background.
Flu season typically starts in the U.S. in October before peaking between December and February and extending into May. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for flu antibodies to develop in the body, so timing comes into play when scheduling your influenza vaccine.
Most people need only one dose of flu vaccine for the season, making September and October a good time to be vaccinated. Ideally, according to CDC, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
Some more guidance from CDC:
- Most adults, especially those 65 years and older, and pregnant people in the first or second trimester should generally not get vaccinated early (in July or August) because protection may decrease over time. You should consider early vaccination, however, if you know you don’t be able to come back for a vaccination.
- Some children need two doses of flu vaccine. For those children, it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as vaccine is available, because the second dose needs to be given at least four weeks later. Vaccination during July and August also can be considered for children who need only one dose.
- Vaccination during July and August also can be considered for people who are in the third trimester of pregnancy during those months, because this can help protect their infants for the first few months after birth (when they are too young to be vaccinated).
New guidance for seniors
The CDC does not recommend any particular flu vaccine for people younger than age 65. It does have preferential vaccines for those ages 65 and older, and that’s new guidance this year.
“For people 65 years and older, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended over standard-dose, unadjuvanted flu vaccines. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine,” CDC said.
If those aren’t available, the CDC recommends getting any available vaccine.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year, with a few rare exceptions. You can see more guidance on that here.