If you’re wondering when to get a flu shot, it’s time

As fall begins to turn into winter in 2023, you may have already prepared yourself for the flu season by getting a flu vaccine. But if you’re still wondering, “When should I get a flu shot?”—you should know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people aged 6 months and older should have one by the end of October, with few exceptions.

The CDC makes this recommendation because the flu season usually begins in October and peaks sometime between December and February. Of course, the flu season can change—in the fall of 2022, for example, it started early and peaked by the end of November—but that’s the usual pattern.

However, if you don’t have a flu shot by the end of October, it’s important to be prepared for holiday gatherings later in the year by having a flu vaccine in advance. It takes about two weeks for a flu vaccine to build up enough antibodies in the body to help protect against the flu, so schedule your shot with any future events like large gatherings in mind.

Remember: The flu vaccine may not prevent everyone from getting the flu—but it can help protect people from some of the serious complications of the flu, such as hospitalization and death. In the 2021-2022 flu season, the CDC estimated that flu vaccination helped prevent 1.8 million illnesses related to the flu, as well as 1,000,000 medical visits, 22,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 1,000 deaths. During a recent news conference, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen noted that early estimates suggest that flu vaccination prevented 66,000 hospitalizations due to the flu in the 2022–2023 flu season.

So the time to get a flu shot is here—if you haven’t gotten yours, make sure you take proactive steps to protect your health and get one as soon as you can.

Find where to get a flu vaccine near you