Is Delaying Your Flu Shot a Good Idea?

This week a mom came into my office for her 9 month-old’s well-baby check-up. I offered a flu vaccine to her and her baby. She said “I’ll wait ’till next month for that.  My family doctor advised that I wait.”

“Why? I asked her”

“Shouldn’t you know that?” She replied.  “My family doc said that the effects wear off after 3- 4 months and it’s more important that we be immune in February and March than in the fall.”

Worried that perhaps I  wasn’t up to date on my flu vaccine literature, I said “I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware of that recommendation.  Let me do a little bit of research and get back to you”.

It turns out there are some family docs in the community (some really good ones) who are making this recommendation.

I (unsuccessfully) searched for some evidence to support this recommendation to delay. All I could find were global public health recommendations to get vaccinated as soon as possible.  I also made some enquiries with my public health department, fellow colleagues, and a few pediatric infectious disease specialists.  There was complete consensus that once vaccinated, no matter how early in the season,  immunity will last at least as along as the flu season.

So the bottom line is:

Get your flu vaccine as early as you can.  Delay adds no benefit and prolongs the period of time during which you or your children are vulnerable to flu infection.