As January turns to February, I am often asked by patients if they should still get their flu shots.  While you should have had one already, it is still not to late.  According to the CDC, viruses that cause the flu are most common during the fall and winter months, with activity starting to increase in October and November. While the flu season usually ity peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May. Because it takes about two weeks after getting the flu shot for the vaccination to protect you against the flu, you can technically get the flu shot through February and have it still provide some benefit.  That said, next time please get your flu shot earlier, before flu season begins. The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, though early November is still probably OK.

One thing that patients often tell me is that “I don’t get the flu shot because I never get the flu.”  This is a huge myth.  As I told Prevention Magazine in “10 Flu Myths Your Doctor Wishes You Would Stop Believing,” if you happen to be the type of individual that doesn’t usually get sick, that’s fantastic. However, it doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk for the flu. That’s like saying, “I never get in car accidents so I don’t need car insurance.”

Please get a flu shot.

Author Matthew L. Mintz, MD, FACP

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