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Optimal Timing for Screenings, Appointments, Medications

If you've ever bought a coveted pair of shoes at a sale price or cashed in a stock just before the price took a dive, you know the difference good timing can make on your quality of life.

But, of course, it goes way beyond money. Get your timing right, and you'll whiz through waiting rooms at doctor's appointments. Your medications will work their best. You'll improve the accuracy of screening tests. You might even save your own life or that of someone you love.

Here's a rundown of the best times to do certain health-related tasks that can make your life safer and saner, and give you added peace of mind.

Flu vaccine

The best time to get a flu shot: late October or early November. Flu cases tend to peak in February. Getting the flu vaccine in October or November gives your body time to build immunity and protects you in case outbreaks hit early in your area. The vaccine's protection takes just 10 days to fully kick in and tends to last six to eight months.


The best time to get your first colonoscopy: at age 50. This is the age when most people are advised to get their first colonoscopy, but if you have an increased risk for colon cancer, it's best to start 10 years before the age the youngest member of your family was diagnosed with a related cancer. For example, if your relative was diagnosed with colon cancer at 46, you should start getting screened with a colonoscopy at 36.