When is it Too Late to Get a Flu Shot?

While you usually want to get a flu shot well before flu season gets started, that isn't always possible. With flu shot delays or shortages, your child might not always be able to get a flu shot when you want.

A woman receiving the flu shot
Steve Jacobs / Getty Images

Late Flu Shots

So when is it too late to get vaccinated against the flu?

The CDC recommends getting vaccinated early, but they also say, "Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later."

So it is really never too late to get a flu vaccine.

When Should You Get a Flu Shot?

While ideally, you should have gotten your flu shot by September or October, that sometimes doesn't happen.

Why wait?

The early start to a flu season might catch you by surprise so that you simply didn't have time to get your kids their flu vaccine. Others might wait, thinking they didn't need one, but then became concerned about the reports of how bad flu season has been the last few years.

Of course, it is always better to get a flu shot much earlier so that you are protected for the full flu season.

Finding Flu Shots

Because of the flu shot delays and shortages in past years, finding a flu shot, even if you want one, has sometimes been difficult.

Increased demands as flu activity increases have a lot of people looking for flu vaccine who might otherwise have skipped getting vaccinated though. That could have meant that your healthcare provider was already out by the time you wanted one.

If your own pediatrician does run out of flu shots, you might check with your local health department, hospital, or pharmacies, and find a flu shot wherever you can.

For some groups, the flu shot could pose risks. Find out who should not get the flu shot and why.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a flu shot if you're feeling sick?

It depends. If you're feeling sick, check with your healthcare provider before you go in for your shot. If you have a mild illness like a cold, they may say it's OK to get it. If you have a fever over 101 degrees F, they'll probably ask you to wait until you're feeling better.

Should you get a flu shot if you've already had the flu?

Yes. Even if you've had the flu this year, the flu shot covers different strains, so it can help protect you from getting the flu again.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about flu vaccines. Updated October 21, 2019.

  2. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.