Get Ahead of Flu Season: When to Get Your Annual Flu Shot

August 29, 2023

Ideally, flu vaccine or flu shot is distributed annually within and outside the United States. Getting vaccinated is vital to help protect people from circulating strains.

When Flu Season Starts: Causes and Symptoms of Flu

Flu season typically begins in the fall and peaks during winter. The flu, or influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. These viruses can be categorized into different types (A, B, and C), with subtypes and strains varying yearly.

The common causes of flu are: 

  • Virus transmission: The flu virus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It can also spread by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. 
  • Mutation: Influenza viruses can mutate frequently, leading to the emergence of new strains. This is why flu vaccines must be updated annually to match the prevalent strains.

Here are the symptoms of the flu to look out for:

The sudden onset of high fever is a common symptom of the flu. Also, chills and sweating often accompany fever. Wherein a persistent dry or productive cough is a hallmark of the flu.

  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Some strains of the flu can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, though these symptoms are more common in children.

When is the Most Effective Time to Get a Flu Shot?

The most effective time to get a flu shot is typically in the early fall before the flu season starts. It's recommended to get vaccinated by the end of October. This is because it takes a couple of weeks for your body to build immunity after receiving the vaccine. This timing protects you before the flu starts circulating widely in your community.

Getting Flu Shot & Preventive Healthcare at Urgent Care

Urgent Care often offers flu shots as part of their preventive healthcare services. Getting a flu shot at an urgent care center can be convenient, especially if you cannot schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Urgent care is also available for people experiencing mild symptoms that don't require a hospital visit.

Urgent care centers may ask you a few health-related questions before administering the flu shot to ensure no contraindications. In addition to flu shots, urgent care centers may offer other preventive healthcare services, such as vaccinations for other diseases.

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