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When Is The Best Time To Get A Flu Shot?

09/29/2014 09:52 EDT | Updated 09/30/2014 11:59 EDT
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School's back in session, the leaves are starting to fall and that can only mean one thing: Flu season is about to wreak havoc on us all.

Many of us already know the best way to avoid contracting and spreading a virus is by washing our hands, and getting the flu shot. But when is the best time to go in for a vaccine?

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Canadians should be vaccinated as early in the flu season as possible.

According to PHAC's FluWatch website, that means very soon, as a small number of cases have started cropping up in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

An Agency spokesperson told The Huffington Post Canada the distribution of the flu vaccine has started for provinces and territories, and the majority will be delivered by the end of October. Once injected, the shot can take about two weeks to develop the biological protections that can limit a virus' effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccine is recommended for anyone who is over six months old, says the Government of Canada.

Kids aged six months to eight years old require two doses of the flu vaccine, and are urged to obtain the first "as soon as possible" so that the second can be administered prior to flu season.

A government website states that a vaccine can protect you if you contract the virus, that it can stop you from becoming very ill and halts the spread of the sickness to other people. It is imperative that people obtain a new shot every year because previous vaccines can lose their effectiveness, and viruses tend to change from one year to the next.

But this year may prove an exception.

Flu experts working with the World Health Organization (WHO) said last February that this year's H1N1 vaccine would be a repeat of the previous year's formula, as the virus hasn't changed much since the last season.

The lack of change means that the H1N1 vaccine to be used in the 2014-15 flu season will be the same that has been used to protect against the virus since 2009, though experts say it could mutate soon.

One of the best ways to monitor flu season is by keeping an eye on PHAC's FluWatch reports.

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