When Is The Best Time To Get The Flu Shot This Year?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses when it is recommended to get your flu shot for the 2020-2021 season.

When Is The Best Time To Get The Flu Shot This Year?
Aug 30, 2020

Merry asked

When is best time to get flu shot? Thanks!

At a glance

  • October is an ideal time to get your influenza vaccine. It’s not too early and not too late.
  • If you can’t get it in October, you should still get it, even if you are early or late.
  • If you come down with the flu before you get the vaccine, you should still get the vaccine.


Hi Merry and thanks for reaching out to us. I’m going to make the assumption that you are writing to us from the United States or somewhere else in the northern hemisphere. If you are writing to us from the southern hemisphere then these recommendations will not apply to you.

The 2019-2020 “flu season” was quite widespread. In the United states, it’s estimated that influenza spread to 39-56 million people, leading to 740,000 hospitalizations and 62,000 deaths. It would have been a much more mild year if every eligible adult received an influenza vaccination.

I think that it’s especially important to get vaccinated this year (2020-2021 season). This upcoming flu season could be very bad if both influenza and COVID-19 are widely circulating, so it’s important that everyone who is able to be vaccinated does so.

Timing your influenza vaccination can be an important way to protect yourself through the upcoming season. Usually, flu season can start as early as October and last as long as March. Though the influenza vaccine is available every year around July, getting your flu shot that early might lead to waning immunity later in the flu season. This is especially true for older adults. Nevertheless, the CDC recommends that you get your flu vaccination every year by the end of October. This will allow you to be vaccinated before most circulating influenza becomes widespread, and should allow you to maintain immunity throughout flu season.

I am personally planning on getting my influenza vaccine sometime in early October. If you are unable to get your flu shot in October, it’s much better to get it earlier or later rather than not to get it at all. If you get it too early, you may only be partially protected when February or March arrives, but partial protection is still better than no protection. Likewise, if you wait until November or December, you might be exposed to influenza already, so try to get it earlier if you can.

Lastly, if you were to come down with the flu before you get vaccinated, you should still get the vaccine! Every year, several different strains circulate. It’s entirely possible to get one strain, recover, and then get another flu strain a few months later.

I hope this helps. Feel free to write us in the future with any additional questions!

  • Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions, CDC
  • 'Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—United States, 2020-21', CDC
  • 2019-2020 U.S. flu season: preliminary burden estimates., CDC
  • Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2020-2021 northern hemisphere influenza season., WHO

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