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

  • Should you get a flu shot if you have a cold?

    If you have a mild cold, it should be okay to get a flu shot. However, it's best to check in with a healthcare provider first, just to be safe. If you have a high fever or feel any more serious symptoms of sickness, you will likely be advised to wait before getting a flu shot.

  • 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.

  • When should you get the flu shot?

    For the best protection, get it as early in the flu season—ideally by the end of October. However, even if you are late, it's still a good idea to get a flu shot. Flu activity peaks in February and can last as late as May.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about flu vaccines.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about seasonal flu vaccine.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently asked influenza (flu) questions.