Flu shots already available: Is it too early to get vaccinated?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - If you've been to the doctor in the last couple of weeks you may have been offered a flu shot already for the upcoming flu season but is it too early?

Dr. Amy Edwards is an Infectious Disease Specialist with University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and said it's not too early.

"The CDC recommends people obtaining their vaccine by October," said Edwards.

In fact, getting the shot early is better than waiting.

Flu season is October through May, but cases can pop up outside of that window.

According to Edwards, the argument to get it early is a good one because you're not fully protected the minute you get your flu shot.

"The vaccine takes two weeks to become effective, meaning if you get the vaccine now you won't have peak antibody production until two weeks later," she said.

Drug manufactures have already produced this years flu shot which involves a little bit of a guessing game according to Edwards.

"The strains for this year's flu shot have already been chosen. They are chosen early in the year to give manufacturers time to make the vaccine. That is why the vaccine doesn't always match. Sometimes a surprise strain pops up that researchers weren't expecting," she said.

But can getting the flu shot early in the season protect you all the way through May?

"You ask a great question and one that we don't completely know the answer to," explained. Edwards. "There is some data that shows in young healthy adults you can find antibodies to the strain of influenza they were vaccinated against years later. This does not mean they are protected for years because the influenza virus mutates so constantly. But the answer in older patients and in those with compromised immune systems isn't as clear.  In babies we give a booster shot a month later because they often don't get as high an antibody response so the booster helps with this, and helps the immunity last longer."

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