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Is It Too Late To Get A Flu Shot?

2013-2014 Flu Season

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Updated April 06, 2014

A child gets the FluMist flu vaccine to help decrease his risk of getting the flu.

A child gets the FluMist flu vaccine to help decrease his risk of getting the flu.

Photo by Vincent Iannelli, MD

While you usually want to get a flu shot well before flu season gets started, that hasn't been possible in recent years. With flu shot delays or shortages, your child might not always be able to get a flu shot when you want. That was especially true a few years ago, when the 2009 H1N1 swine flu vaccine wasn't even available at the start of flu season.

Fortunately, flu vaccine has been in very good supply the last few years and many pediatricians and flu clinics have actually been able to start vaccinating kids early.

 

Late Flu Shots

So when is it too late to get vaccinated against the flu?

Since the CDC recommends that flu "vaccine should continue to be offered to unvaccinated people throughout the flu season as long as vaccine is still available," it it really never too late.

When Should You Get A Flu Shot

While ideally you should have gotten your flu shot by September or October, that sometimes doesn't happen.

Why wait?

The early start to last year's flu season might have caught some of you by surprise, so that you simply didn't have time to get your kids their flu vaccine. Others might have waited, thinking they didn't need one, but then became concerned about the reports of how bad flu season has been the last few years.

As of late-March, the CDC is reporting that flu activity "is declining nationally, though flu viruses continue to circulate and cause illness in the United States."

Of course, it would have been better to get a flu shot much earlier so that you are protected for the full flu season, but if you consider that flu activity might continue through April or May, a flu vaccine now can still protect you for a few months.

Finding Flu Shots

Because of the flu shot delays and shortages in past years, finding a flu shot, even if you want one, may have been difficult. The supply of flu shots was good this year though and most pediatricians and clinics likely have had a good supply of flu shots.

Increased demand as flu activity increases has a lot of people looking for flu vaccine who might otherwise have skipped getting vaccinated though. That could mean that your doctor is already out by now.

If your own pediatrician is out of flu shots, you might check with your local health department, hospital, or pharmacies, and find a flu shot wherever you can.

Sources:

CDC. FluView. 2013-2014 Influenza Season Week 13 ending March 29, 2014

CDC. Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – United States, 2013-14, MMWR 2013, September 20, 2013 / 62(RR07);1-43

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