Dr. Kwong said that people at higher risk for flu complications, including those who are pregnant, 65 years or older or who have conditions such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, they may want to get a flu shot as soon as possible. People living in parts of the United States that already have moderate or high flu activity, such as Texas, New Mexico, Delaware, and Georgia, should also be vaccinated as soon as possible. (To see flu-like activity where you live, scroll down to the map on this Web page.)
For optimal protection, some may want to wait.
If you’re not at high risk of complications and low flu activity where you live, and if you’re the type of person who likes better flu protection, waiting another month or two might be a wise choice, say the experts I spoke to. . Dr. Nozo said he usually gets a flu shot in October, while Dr. Kwong said he often waited until November.
The wait makes sense because people are more likely to catch the flu virus in winter than early fall — and the protection provided by the flu vaccine diminishes over time, said Emily Martin, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. Public health.
Dr Martin and colleagues published Study in 2021 which found that the ability of the influenza vaccine to protect against hospitalization caused by influenza decreased by 8 to 9 percent each month after vaccination over the four flu seasons. 2019 study He reports that the odds of catching the flu increase by 16 percent every 28 days after vaccination. This is important given that the past flu season is still circulating in April and even June in some parts of the United States, perhaps because people are increasing travel and easing Covid restrictions. Dr. Kwong says if you get your flu shot in August, or if you get it in September, you may not be protected against the flu during the spring and early summer months.
Dr. Martin says the vaccine can partially protect you after seven or eight months. So don’t worry if you have already received your vaccine. He adds that getting the flu shot early is better than not getting it at all.
Wear a mask in crowded spaces and wash your hands regularly.
Even if the flu hasn’t spread where you live, experts recommend wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces. “Hiddening helps limit the spread of many respiratory viruses, not just influenza,” explains Dr. Martin, and in early fall there could be 20 or so viruses circulating due to back-to-school spread. Dr. Kwong recommends wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask, such as an N95, KN95, or KF94. If that’s not possible, surgical masks are more protective than cloth masks, but cloth is better than nothing, he said.