Calling in sick from work to watch Netflix in bed sounds pretty great–unless you actually get sick. The 2019-2020 flu season is nearly here, and you don’t want to use those precious personal days dealing with a sore throat and sniffly nose. This means you’re probably wondering: when should I get a flu shot?
Getting a flu shot helps protect against the most common flu strains. Although experts can’t predict when the flu season will be at its peak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the best time to get a flu shot is the end of October–or as soon as flu shots are available at your local drugstore, says Dr. Princess Ogbogu, director of allergy and immunology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
“We know that it takes a few weeks to build immunity, so getting a flu shot early is wise,” she explains to Men’s Health.
Generally, it takes two weeks after your flu shot to develop antibodies that protect against the flu, according to the CDC. There’s a chance you’ll be exposed to the flu before or right after your shot, meaning it’s possible to get the flu even if you’ve been vaccinated.
People often believe the flu shot gives them the flu, but that’s not true, says Ogbogu. You might feel achy, tired, or have a temperature, but that’s because your immune system is building up the antibodies that stave off sickness.
“Overall, the benefit of getting the flu shot outweighs the risk in most patients,” she says.
If you don’t get a flu shot in October, it’s still worth it to get one when you can, Ogbogu adds, since flu season may run long.