Friends, it’s flu shot season again — time to roll up your sleeves and get that winter protection against this miserable virus. Even though most of us are troopers, and we get this vaccine every year, many of us still hesitate.
Why is that? I guess it’s because many of us still get the annoying flu side affects and even a milder case of the flu during the cold winter. Wouldn’t it be great if the flu shot would be effective for many years — much like the chicken pox and measles vaccines!
So, the question is — how long is the flu shot really effective? Can we skip a year or two, or more?
Flu Shot: How Long Does It Last?
The general answer is approximately 6 months. However, it can vary, as every person is different. As a general rule the vaccine is most effective in the first 3 months, but you still are protected out to 6 months. This guideline is important as it helps you determine when you should get your flu shot.
The flu season usually goes from October to May according to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). It peaks sometime between December and March. And, even if you got your shot at the best time last year — you’re not covered now.
Therefore, it’s important to get vaccinated before the flu season peaks. That is about the the middle of November, at the latest. But preferably, you didn’t wait that long. You probably scheduled your appointment for late September or early October.
Another reason why we need to get the vaccine every year is that flu strains differ from one year to the next. Last year’s was tailored to flu strains of that year, this year’s strains are probably different.
So, basically, we need to get the vaccine every year—no exceptions, unless you’re severely allergic to it. And yes, while the flu shot isn’t 100% effective, it can prevent it from becoming fatal.