As summer turns into fall and the US heads into flu season, health officials are warning that now is the time to get an influenza vaccination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the last two weeks of September though the end of October is the optimal time to get the shot to protect yourself against influenza, a disease that is at its worst through the winter months and usually kills thousands of people each year.
Throwing a new wrinkle into the annual decision on a flu shot is the fact that millions have had the COVID-19 vaccine and may be due for a booster within the same time period.
Is it ok to have two vaccines so close to each other?
Here’s what we know about the COVID-19 booster, the influenza vaccine and if you can take them at the same time.
Can you get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 booster?
Yes, you can get the two shots at the same time. This is a change from what the CDC recommended when the vaccines first came out.
Then, health care officials suggested you do not get a COVID-19 shot if you had gotten any other vaccine within the previous 14 days. Health officials wanted people to have the two-week cushion between vaccines for two reasons: first, to see how the vaccine worked on people without any interaction with another drug; and second, to minimize the chance of having to deal with side effects from more than one drug.
However, the CDC has revised its guidelines on getting an additional vaccine when you get a COVID-19 booster.
“You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations,” the CDC website explains. “Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, after getting vaccinated and possible side effects of vaccines are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines.”
“There’s no reason you cannot get both at once. They are not going to counteract each other in any way,” Karl Minges, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, told HuffPost. “COVID vaccines are using a very different mechanism to vaccinate an individual than the influenza shot.”
Is there a single shot that can give me both the booster shot and the influenza vaccine?
Not yet, but one is coming. Moderna announced last week that it is working on a combination flu shot and COVID-19 booster.
What would be the downside of getting the two shots together?
If you get both vaccine at the same time, there is a possibility you could get the side effects from both shots. Some of the possible side effects of the influenza vaccine overlap with the side effects of the COVID-19 shot.
At the minimum, you are likely to have two sore arms at the same time.
Can I get the two vaccines together now?
No, the Food and Drug Administration has not authorized the COVID-19 booster shot yet. The agency will review information from Pfizer on Friday to determine if it will approve a booster shot for the general population.
President Joe Biden had said he intended to launch the booster program next Monday.
You can get a flu vaccine now in most pharmacies. In fact, it is the optimum time to get the shot, according to the CDC who says you should get the vaccine before the end of October for the best shot at protection against the flu during the virus’ most active season.
Who should get the vaccines?
The CDC says anyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu.
As for the COVID-19 virus, anyone over age 12 can get the Pfizer vaccine and anyone over age 18 can get the Moderna shot.
©2021 Cox Media Group