For healthcare providers, earlier influenza vaccination is linked to fewer flu symptoms and less time away from work, a Mexican study suggests.

Roughly 59% of healthcare workers studied got vaccinated in 2013 and in 2014, but during the first year of the study (2013), only 23% of vaccinated workers were inoculated by the beginning of November, while in 2014, 56% of vaccinated workers were inoculated by November.

As a result, there were more leaves of absence among the study participants in the first year (52) compared to the following year (15), and more total days of lost work (218 versus 68).

“It’s a straightforward phenomenon: it takes three weeks for antibodies to develop, thus the earlier you get vaccinated the better,” said senior study author Dr Adrian Camacho-Ortiz, of the University Hospital Dr. Jose Eleuterio Gonzalez in Mexico.

“The most important finding of our study is that we provide proof of this phenomenon, which is scarce, moreover in healthcare providers,” Camacho-Ortiz added by email. “We found that health care workers vaccinated earlier in the season had less influenza-like syndrome and were less likely to lose working days.”