The flu season
Seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States. Yet, according to the CDC, the peak time for the flu throughout the year is between December and March, with the highest month being February. Between 1982 and 2016, these months have proven, year after year, to hold the highest percentage of respiratory specimens tested positive for the influenza infection.
Combating the flu
In an attempt to combat the flu virus, many go to their local pharmacies or doctors and get the vaccinations as soon as they come out. Some pharmacies begin pitching the need to “come in and get your flu shot” as early as August. This puts the climax of flu season weeks, potentially months, away.
State laws have changed over the years, which has begun allowing pharmacists to give vaccinations and has stretched the flu-shot season, according to a CNN report. Tom Charland, founder and CEO of Merchant Medicine, said that these stores have found a way “to deliver medical services in an on-demand way…to get people in to the store to buy other things.”
Vaccinating too early?
These techniques may be coming with second order effects that go against medical wisdom, as some experts say there is an unclear time frame on how long the immunity from these antibodies last.
With the flu virus’ intensity varying year to year--a CDC report showed deaths associated to the flu rising from about 3,300 per year to 49,000 per year over the last 31 seasons--the attempt to vaccine at the right time has become a concerning question of many.
When and how to get vaccinated
The coming season’s vaccine, according to the CDC, will come as a trivalent or a quadrivalent. The trivalent will protect against influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and an influenza B virus. The quadrivalent protects similarly to the trivalent with the addition of another B virus. The CDC also recommends the use of the injectable influenza vaccines in the coming year and not the nasal spray flu vaccine, due to concerns of effectiveness.
Laura Haynes, an immunologist at the University of Connecticut Center on Aging, states, “The ideal time is between Halloween and Thanksgiving.” She also says that if you can only get it “in September, then go ahead and get it”, as “it’s best to get it early, rather than not at all”.