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A Healthier You

What You Need to Know About the Upcoming Flu Season—Including When to Get Your Flu Shot


(People) – With Labor Day officially in the rearview mirror and the return of the school year underway, Americans will soon have to grapple with the annual public health ritual of prepping for the flu season.

Fall doesn’t technically start for another two and a half weeks. But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about the 2018 flu season—including important questions like when you and your family should get your flu shot, how long the season is expected to last, and other critical information—especially after the brutal flu outbreak of 2017-2018. Here’s what you need to know.

Can you get the flu in September?

The question of whether or not you can get the flu in September is one of the most frequently asked ones about the virus. Simply put: Yes. The more accurate answer: Yes, but it is highly unlikely.

So how long is the flu season?

The more commonly accepted timeline of the flu season, when people are usually hospitalized for flu and flu-like illnesses, lasts between October and late April/early May. Peak flu season most commonly occurs between December and February, with February typically presenting the highest number of cases, according to CDC data. That trend will likely hold true for the 2018 season, too.

When should you get a flu shot?

Given those realities, just when should you get a flu shot? Public health officials say that everyone 6 months of age or older should ideally receive a flu vaccine by the end of October—and it may be best to get a flu shot even earlier than that if possible, since most flu vaccines take about two weeks to offer maximum protection and it’s possible to contract influenza before or during that time period.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that all adults and children (other than those who have flu shot allergies or other medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated) receive their shots by the end of October 2018.

Even if you fail to get a flu shot by then, experts say it’s never too late to get one at any point during the flu season, and no matter how effective (or not) a particular batch of flu vaccine may prove—some protection is still better than none, and getting vaccinated is just as important for protecting the elderly, children, and people with compromised immune systems as it is for protecting yourself.

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