INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — There are some conflicting answers about when is the best time to get your flu shot. Some have said the earlier the better and others say getting the vaccine too early or too late could make it useless.
Doctors say September and October are the sweet spot for your flu shot, but getting one at all is the most important.
“We want everybody to get the vaccine before the big flu season hits,” said Dr. James Wood, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Riley Hospital for Children. “Usually that season hits somewhere in late fall to early winter so we try to get everybody vaccinated before that time.”
Wood said there’s really no downside to getting the shot now. Some fear the strand will change if you get it too early. Wood said that may be true.
“However, the vaccine does not change. We use the vaccine from the Southern Hemisphere to predict what we are going to have each year and what we are going to use,” said Wood.
He said what’s happening in Australia is usually a good indicator.
“We do know that Australia is having a pretty severe season this year and a pretty long season, what that translates for us in the U.S. though is still a little bit unknown,” said Wood.
Next week, the Indiana State Department of Health will start gathering flu data from doctors and patients for its weekly reports that start next month.
“October 11th you can look back on our site and you will be able to find our reports,” said Shawn Pence, Outbreak Supervisor, Indiana State Department of Health.
Last Thursday, President Donald Trump enacted a new executive order that aims to modernize the way the U.S. develops flu vaccines. It creates a task force led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“For a long, long time we’ve needed I think more support from the government and just more support, more research into the flu vaccine,” said Wood.
Dr. Wood said he would like to see the U.S. to help create a universal vaccine that would be protective year after year.
“We’re not there yet but I think we are getting closer and I think with more support from agencies and really any funding could really go a long way to help get to that spot,” said Wood.
Though some experts say data suggests a severe flu season this year, there’s no way to predict for sure. Only time will tell what kind of season we will have.
Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is getting vaccinated, washing your hands and staying home when you’re sick.