When’s the best time to get a flu shot?

The timing of the flu season is difficult to predict and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season, but generally it runs from September to May. People are encouraged to get vaccinated beforehand.

“This is a perfect time to get a flu shot,” said Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center nurse Candy Schoelen after administering shots at a clinic being held for staff at WTOP.

“It takes two weeks for the flu shot to kick in,” and offer protection, Schoelen said.

With rare exception, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against the flu.

Schoelen said one of the biggest misconceptions people have about the flu shot is that it can make you sick.

“According to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], you cannot get the flu from the flu shot,” Schoelen said. “It is four strains that you can get, and if you get sick, it may be another type of flu or another bug that’s out there.”

Addressing other common myths about the flu, Harvard Health’s website makes the following points:

  • You can spread the flu even if you feel well.
  • Healthy people do need to be vaccinated.
  • Influenza can be far more serious than a cold.
  • You need a flu shot every year.
  • You can’t catch the flu from being in a cold, drafty environment.
  • Chicken soup helps you feel better but you won’t heal quicker.
  • Antibiotics do not fight viral infections such as influenza.
  • You can’t catch the flu from the vaccine.

Parents who are concerned about potentially exposing children to COVID-19 while they’re out getting a flu shot should consult with their doctors.

“Call your doctor. Tell them that’s your concern, and I’m sure they’ll work something out for you to come in,” Schoelen said.

Find answers to other common questions about the flu on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The CDC recommends that you get a flu vaccine by the end of October.

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