OWN

*This* Is the Best Time Of Day To Get A Flu Shot

Hint: The answer isn't "whenever I can fit it in."

There’s one factor that may make your flu shot more effective, according to a study published in Vaccine earlier this year: getting it in the morning.

In the study, 276 adults aged 65 and older got their flu shots between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. or 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. (Older people are more susceptible to the flu, making them an ideal group to study. Another group at high risk: the chronically stressed.) Researchers measured their antibody levels before the shots and one month after. Remember, antibodies detect and defend against specific viruses and bacteria. “The more antibodies you have, the less likely you are to get the flu,” explains lead study author, Anna Phillips, PhD, a professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Those who were vaccinated in the a.m. had significantly higher antibody levels one month later than those who saw their doc in the p.m. “We don’t yet know what’s driving these findings, but it may have to do with which immune cells are circulating more during different times of the day,” says Phillips.

It’s not a bad idea to make like Phillips and “get the jab in the morning,” but keep in mind there are multiple flu strains that go around ever year, and if the common ones aren’t among the three or four that are typically included in the flu vaccine in the United States, the timing of your shot won’t make much difference. So continue to practice common sense flu prevention, like washing your hands and keeping a healthy distance from people who are clearly ill (and please stay home if you’re one of them).