Should You Get Your Flu Shot and COVID-19 Booster at the Same Time?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises getting a fresh booster shot this fall if you haven’t had or had COVID-19 in the past few months.

The most recent shots, which were approved in late August and are already available, were made to combat the Omicron strains that are now in circulation.

According to the CDC, the new boosters can be administered at the same time as a seasonal flu vaccination. Should you administer both shots simultaneously or space them out? It’s a straightforward query with a surprisingly intricate response.

Many experts, including White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, agree that you should get your COVID-19 booster as soon as you’re eligible, which is at least two months after your last dose of the vaccine or three months after your most recent SARS-CoV-2 infection.

However, this viewpoint is not universal. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s coordinator for the COVID-19 response, suggested receiving a boost by Halloween to make sure you’re protected for the holidays and the typical winter virus season.

“Get it at once. It’s okay to hold off a little longer if you’ve recently been infected or immunized, Jha added. “However, don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait until late November or early December. Do it as quickly as possible.

Jha’s advised date for the booster is consistent with the CDC’s recommendation to get vaccinated against the flu by the end of October.

Additionally, he advised getting both shots at once. In a recent news conference, Jha stated, “I genuinely feel this is why God gave us two arms—one for the flu shot and the other for the COVID shot.

Getting both vaccinations on the same day is safe. While it may make you feel bad to double up, there is no medical justification for doing so.

Both vaccines can have side effects, including discomfort at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, exhaustion, and muscular aches.

According to Dr. Alicia Fry, director of the CDC’s influenza division’s epidemiology and preventive branch, “If a person wants to catch both at the same time, they can.” That is a really effective use of that person’s time, if it works for them.

Since COVID-19 case counts are still high nationwide, Dr. Richard Zimmerman, the director of the Pittsburgh Vaccination Research Group and a former member of the CDC’s vaccine advisory group, concurs that it is a good idea to obtain a booster shot.

Earlier in September, Zimmerman had his Omicron booster. But in his view, getting a flu shot in September is a little early.

The best time to administer vaccines, he believes, is before to the season of the infectious disease in question. “Since the flu season normally lasts from December to March, I’m personally waiting until October or November to get my flu shot.”

According to a study from 2021, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine decreases by about 10% per month after immunization. As a result, even if someone receives their flu shot in September, they may still be susceptible to the virus if they are exposed to it in February or March.

Another study, which focused on elderly persons and was published in 2019, indicated that more than 11,000 instances of influenza among older adults may be prevented in a typical season if all seniors who typically receive the flu shot started their doses in October rather than August or September.

The CDC advises against being immunized until November or later since influenza can still spread until May.

But there’s much more that makes things difficult. In order to predict what will happen in the United States, scientists frequently look to Australia, where the flu season occurs throughout the spring and summer months.

This year, Australia saw an abnormally early flu season. Although the virus hasn’t spread significantly in the United States yet, given what transpired in Australia, it’s probable that will soon change.

Dr. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease specialist at Utah’s Intermountain Medical Center, says, “This year, I do think there’s some reason to receiving the influenza vaccination early in the fall.”

Clearly, determining the best vaccination schedule involves a number of factors. Most people don’t need to worry too much about time, according to Zimmerman, but for those who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 or influenza, it may be worthwhile to discuss those details with a healthcare professional.

The greatest time to get vaccinated is ultimately whenever you’re going to do it. A two-shot appointment might be the best option if receiving a flu vaccination and a COVID-19 booster at the same time is the only way you can obtain both.

“It can be challenging for some people to reach a medical institution or a doctor. According to Zimmerman, for them, the ease of receiving both vaccinations at once may outweigh the danger of decreasing [protection]. You won’t have any protection at all if you fail to enter because you’re trying to timing it just so.