U.S.

Flu Season 2018-19: When, Where to Get Your Shot, How Bad Will It Be This Year

While the heat of summer is still present across much of the country, flu season is fast approaching. Signs are appearing at pharmacies promoting flu shot sales, while offices and schools are starting to offer flu clinics.

Last flu season was one of the worst on record and its about to start again. The season runs through fall and winter but usually peaks sometime after December but before February is over. While the peak usually happens within those months, the season can run late and into the springtime, sometimes as late as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

While the peak of the season doesn’t usually begin until December, that doesn’t mean there’s no flu activity before then. The activity usually begins in October and the CDC recommends that those who plan to get vaccinated against the flu get their vaccines at least two weeks before the season starts.

It can take about two weeks for the body to form antibodies to fight the flu after the vaccine is administered, according to the CDC. 

While it’s recommended to be vaccinated by the end of October that doesn’t mean those who miss that timeframe shouldn’t get their vaccine, says the CDC. The vaccine can still help protect people who get it later in the season and can help prevent spreading the flu further.

In addition to getting the vaccine, people should stay home if they get sick and be sure to wash their hands to stop the spread of germs. “While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one season to another,” the CDC said. 

Some employers and schools offer the flu vaccine each year while other places have drives where they offer free vaccines to those who need them. Additionally, health clinics and even some pharmacies and stores like Walgreens, CVS and Target offer the vaccine. For those with insurance, the vaccine is usually covered, for those without insurance, it can usually cost anywhere from $40 to $60.

The flu shot is recommended for most people six months of age and older, and especially for those at risk of flu complications, that can be deadly. The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that children over six months of age should get their vaccine as soon as possible.

The vaccine is also recommended for those at risk for complications include the elderly, the young, those with respiratory problems and people with weak immune systems, according to the CDC. There are different forms of the vaccine and some are more highly recommended for certain groups than others.

flu shot A patient receives a flu shot at a walk-in health clinic which administers flu shots on January 10, 2013, in New York City. It's recommended that those over the age of six months get the flu shot. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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