News Briefs – October 2019 – When Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?

Each year, influenza virus infects several million people in the United States, causing about 200,000 hospitalizations and thousands to tens of thousands of deaths.

In this short video, Dr. Offit discusses when to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from this seasonal disease.


News Briefs — When Should I Get the Flu Vaccine?

Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I’m speaking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the subject is influenza.

So, the answer to the question: “What vaccine-preventable disease kills more people than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined?” is influenza. Every year influenza infects several million people in the United States, causing about 200,000 to be hospitalized and anywhere from 20 to 30,000 people to die.

The problem with influenza is that natural infection or immunization the previous year doesn’t protect you against disease the following year, so you need to get a yearly vaccine. That’s just the nature of the virus; the surface proteins of that virus mutate from one year to the next so much so that you need to get a yearly vaccine, which is burdensome for the patient, it’s certainly burdensome for the healthcare system.

So, the question is: “When is it best to get it?” Now, usually, the Food and Drug Administration determines in March exactly which strains are going to be included in that vaccine. It’s a six-month production cycle, so the vaccine is ready by September. So, should you get it in September or should you wait a few months? And the CDC recommends that the vaccine should be taken as soon as it becomes available, in September or October before the virus enters the United States.

Now, some people may not get it in September and October and wonder whether or not it’s still worth getting it, and the answer to that question is, yes. You should get it in September or October or November, December, January, whenever you can, but the best time is to obviously get it before the virus comes into the United States.

Thank you for your attention.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center