Having an annual flu shot is a great precaution to help protect yourself from the seasonal flu.
That poke when getting the shot may be uncomfortable, but so are the facts about the dangers of the flu. The CDC estimated that during the US 2022-2023 flu season, 27 million to 54 million flu-related illnesses occurred, with 300,000 to 650,000 causing hospitalizations.
This is a busy time of the year for our clinic providers as well, with 12 million to 26 million clinic visits occurring as a result of the flu during the last flu season. We would rather see you for a flu shot than a doctor’s visit when you have flu-related symptoms!
A flu shot will not 100% prevent you from getting the flu. However, it will improve your odds.
Why is Timing so Important?
The official recommendation by the CDC is to get a flu shot by the end of October.
If you do not have your shot by the end of October, you can still get it later in the Fall or early Winter to be ready for peak flu season. Getting the vaccine in July or August is not recommended as this is too early and can lead to reduced protection by the time the peak flu season begins.
What is the Peak Flu Month?
Peak flu season is between December and February. With all of the holidays and family gatherings that many participate in during December, it is not surprising that there is an uptick in flu cases during this time.
Based on CDC data gathered from 1982 to 2022 – February is easily the most common month for the flu. In those 40 years of data, it was the peak flu month in 17 of those years (despite being the shortest month).
Why is the Flu Shot Recommended Every Year?
The flu vaccine is generally different every year. The flu has many different strains, and researchers create the flu vaccine to target the four strains of the flu that are believed will be the most common in the upcoming year.
Because the strains of the flu vary from year to year, and the effectiveness of the vaccine diminishes the farther you get from your vaccination date, it is necessary to complete a new vaccine each year for ideal protection.