Flu season and a recommended COVID-19 booster shot are both approaching and here is what you need to know about getting these important shots and whether you can get them at the same time.
HuffPo reports incidents of influenza last year were "unusually low" -- likely due to lockdowns, people not traveling as much, masking, and many people working from home. But this year, more people are interacting with larger groups, traveling more, and in some parts of the country, mask mandates are no longer, meaning getting the flu vaccine this fall will be vital -- as noted by CDC guidelines which recommend the shot for anyone 6 years and older.
So is it safe to get both the flu shot and a COVID booster at the same time or close to one another?
The CDC says yes, you can get both shots at the same time, stating, "Current guidance for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines states they may be administered with other vaccines, including flu vaccines. Providers should be aware of the potential for increased reactogenicity with coadministration of COVID-19 and other vaccines and should consult CDC guidance. If given at the same time, COVID-19 vaccines and flu vaccines that might be more likely to cause a local reaction (for example, high-dose and adjuvanted inactivated flu vaccines) should be administered in different limbs, if possible."
In fact, the flu shot and the COVID vaccine are very different types of shots.
Karl Minges, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, tells HuffPost, "There’s no reason you cannot get both at once. They are not going to counteract each other in any way. COVID vaccines are using a very different mechanism to vaccinate an individual than the influenza shot.”
What should you expect if you get both shots simultaneously?
HuffPo's experts say the two shots have many overlapping side effects, and if given at the same time, will likely be given in different arms. The most common side effects of the flu vaccine are soreness and redness at the site of injection -- along with possible headaches, fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue. These possible side effects are similar to possible side effects seen with the COVID vaccine, and the experts say someone may experience more achiness or fever, but in most cases, the effects will be mild and clear up in a day or 2. HuffPo stresses, "Both the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccines are safe and effective."
When should you get the flu shot?
The CDC notes the best time to get your flu vaccine is in September and October, which may coincide with some people's recommended COVID booster shot depending on when you received your last dose and when the FDA signs off on COVID boosters. HuffPo's health experts suggest getting your flu shot early if possible.
Dr. Aaron Clark, a family medicine physician, says, "The best defense against influenza and COVID-19 is vaccination, number one... and safe social distance, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, not going to school or work when you’re sick are all things we can continue to do to protect ourselves.”